Falcon International Reservoir (Rio Grande River Basin)

An aerial view to the Falcon Dam and Reservoir (Photo provided by the owner)Falcon International Reservoir (also known as Falcon Lake or Dam) is located forty miles southeast of Laredo in Zapata County, on the Rio Grande. The dam and lake are managed jointly by governments of the United States and Mexico through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for water conservation, flood control, hydroelectric energy, and recreation. The lake is named after María Rita de la Garza Falcón, for whom the town of Falcon (displaced by the creation of the reservoir) was named. The idea of a dam six miles east of the present site began about 1935, and the lake was approved by treaty at its present location in the late 1940s.

Work began in 1951, and deliberate impoundment started on August 25, 1953. The reservoir was dedicated by presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adolfo Ruiz Cortines on October 19, 1953. The five-mile-long rolled earthfill and concrete embankment was completed on April 8, 1954. The first power was generated commercially on October 11, 1954. The dam is 150 feet above the riverbed, with a crest elevation of 323 feet above mean sea level. Almost two miles of the dam is in the United States, and nearly three miles is in Mexico. Maximum design water surface may reach to 314.2 feet above mean sea level. According to IBWC 2005 survey, at top of the gate (emergency spillway), elevation of 306.7 feet above mean sea level, the reservoir can store a total of 3,148,140 acre feet of water encompassing a surface area of 98,299 acres. At conservation pool elevation, 301.2 feet above mean sea level, the reservoir has a storage capacity of 2,646,813 acre-feet encompassing a surface area of 85,195 acres. Texas has 58.6 percent of storage capacity in the conservation pool of this reservoir. The drainage area above the dam is 164,482 square miles; 87,760 is in the United States and 76,722 in Mexico.

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