Locking Through: Safety is the prime consideration when locking any type of vessel through a lock. All passengers are required to have a coast guard approved life jacket. As you approach a lock or floodgate in Texas, you must inform the lock operators of your desire to pass and they, in turn, will indicate to you when it is safe to proceed into the lock/floodgate. There are several methods of communication with the lock personnel, as follows.
Radio: Is the preferred method of making contact with the locks in Texas. If your vessel is equipped with a two-way radio, please establish contact with the lock on VHF (FM) Channel 13. Do this in advance of your arrival at the lock or floodgate so that the passage of all vessels may be facilitated, and allow the operator time to prepare.
Cell Phone: Cell phones may be used to contact the lock when within sight of the lock. Please keep in mind lock operators are very busy and are not always able to answer the phone.
Once you have made contact with lock personnel you will be instructed by traffic lights and/or marine radio.
Light Signals: Red and green signal lights are located at both ends of the lock and at the floodgate. A red signal indicates that the lock/floodgate is closed in your direction and you should wait for the lock operator to give you the green light before you proceed into the lock. The green signal means that you have been cleared to enter the lock chamber or floodgate, unless you have been informed by the lock operator that you are required to yield to a commercial vessel. Proceed only when the signal light is green and enter the lock at a slow NO WAKE speed. Vessel may enter under full control and with extreme caution.
Obey all the instructions of the lock personnel. All passages thru the Brazos River Floodgates are ‘open passes’ with no stoppage. Approximately 85% of passages thru the Colorado River Locks are also ‘open passes’ with no stoppage, unless conditions in the river and GIWW warrant locking (differential between the riverside gates and the canal exceeds 0.7 ft.). Your total time in the lock will be approximately 10 - 15 minutes. The pool in the lock chamber will be raised or lowered to the height of the canal or river (depending on which direction you are traveling). When the pool reaches the proper level, the gates will be opened for your departure. Please wait for the operator's signal to exit the lock at a slow NO WAKE speed.
Locking Times: The locks and Floodgates are open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Lockages for pleasure craft are conducted at the top of the hour; or, as traffic conditions permit. Pleasure craft can transit at other times, either safely ahead of, or safely behind tow traffic, as directed by the Lock Operator in charge. A departure from this procedure may be allowed for special events including, but not limited to, fishing tournaments, regattas, flotillas, and other water bases group activities with advanced permission requested through the appropriate project office. The Locks and Floodgates are sometimes closed for repairs for up to 12 hrs. per day (rarely more than this in a 24 hr. period). When this occurs, contact the Lock Operator on duty by radio or cell phone, as small pleasure craft may be able to proceed.
Navigating the Channel: The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Texas is 423 miles long and has two sets of floodgates at the intersection of the Brazos River (Brazos River East and West Floodgates) and two locks where it intersects the Colorado River (Colorado River East and West Locks). The navigation channel minimum depth is 10 feet with a width of 150 ft. All Sector Gates at the Locks or Floodgates open to 75 ft. with depth over sills of 16 ft. The lock chamber at the Colorado locks is 110 ft. wide by 1200 ft. long.
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Floodgate/Lock Contact Information
Brazos River Floodgates: (979) 233-1251
Colorado River Locks: (979) 863-7842