Dam Safety & Security

Report shows Mississippi dams, infrastructure are not up to par

A new report released evaluating dams, roads, bridges, wastewater and drinking water in Mississippi shows areas in need of improvement.

The Mississippi Infrastructure Re-port Card is released annually by the Mississippi Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The 2012 release details the capacity, need and physical condition of the infrastructure and evaluates it with a letter grade. A variety of industry experts contribute to the grades. In addition to the above parameters, experts also evaluate funding, maintenance and upgrade trends. Beyond providing a comprehensive evaluation on the condition of state infrastructure, the report informs elected officials and the public of the condition and serves to encourage discussion and solutions.

The report gave Mississippi dams a D, and remaining infrastructure (roads and bridges, drinking water and wastewater a C. According to an ASCE release, these grades place the state in the average or slightly above average range for the nation. Regardless, the result of this report present needs for improvement.

“The current path regarding maintenance and funding for our transportation and water systems in Mississippi must be reversed,” says Acey Roberts, Mississippi Report Card chair. “We hope this report will be the first step toward understanding the issues and finding real solutions to bridge the funding gap.”

Hurricane Isaac posed threat to Mississippi dam

Mississippi and Louisiana state officials warned local residents in late August to evacuate areas around Lake Tangipahoa Dam in southern Mississippi due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Isaac.

Located in Mississippi’s Percy Quin State Park, the dam had a 50% chance of failing as a result of the torrential rain, said McComb, Miss., Mayor Whitney Rawlings. While Mississippi officials said the volume of the lake would prevent a catastrophic flood, the Tangipahoa River area would flood as a result.

The state Department of Environmental Quality worked to relieve rising pressure by pumping water from the 700-acre lake to nearby agricultural areas.

Officials from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Louisiana’s Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness hoped controlled release of water would alleviate pressure on the dam.

All low-lying areas around the dam and downstream in Louisiana were included in the evacuation.

Civil engineering student receives ASDSO scholarship

Utah State University student Tammy Jacobson was selected by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) Scholarship Committee as the recipient of its 2012-2013 Senior Undergraduate Scholarship.

Established in 1992, the scholarship program gives awards of up to US$10,000 each year to U.S. students enrolled in accredited engineering or related fields. The students must be planning careers related to dam construction, design or operation.

Jacobson, a senior civil engineering major, was selected as one of 28 submissions from universities across the U.S. Her award includes a US$10,000 scholarship to help with tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year and a stipend to attend ASDSO’s Dam Safety 2012 conference in Denver.

“It’s very encouraging to see smart, motivated young people like Tammy take an interest in the field,” says Scholarship Committee Chairman John Moyle.

Jacobson has served as a teaching assistant for a soil mechanics class and participated in National Science Foundation-funded research projects on soil erosion and piping in dams. She worked as a civil engineering technician for the previous three summers at the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Once she has completed her undergraduate degree, Jacobson intends to pursue her graduate degree in geotechnical engineering.

Corps awards several contracts for dam safety work

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded six contracts for dam safety-related work.

Gavins Point Dam

Futurenet Group Inc. was selected to complete work at the 132.3-MW Gavins Point Dam. The dam is the lowest on the Missouri and impounds Lewis and Clark Lake near the South Dakota/Nebraska border. The contract is worth US$2.96 million.

Following the flooding in the Missouri River basin in 2011, the tailrace of the hydroelectric project requires repairs and new protection against erosion. The job requires the installation of 38,900 tons of riprap, with the possibility of another 5,200 to 23,400 tons of additional riprap.

An additional contract is possible for repair work on the spillway gate as well. The Corps is currently soliciting bids for the project.

Fort Peck

The Corps’ Omaha District has awarded a contract to DRL Corp. of Oxford, Mass., for US$1.693 million to repair roads and drains at Fort Peck. The work is required to restore spillway access roads and flood control structures to usability.

The 185.3-MW facility is located at the highest of six large dams along the Missouri River in northeast Montana. It was constructed in 1933 and became operational in 1940. With a height of 250 feet and length of 6,409 miles, the structure utilizes a powerhouse containing five vertical Francis turbines to generate 1,052 GWh annually.

Repairs are needed following the 2011 flood damage in the Missouri River Basin, which caused more than US$225 million in damages to facilities in the Galveston, Omaha and Walla Walla districts.

The planned work includes the replacement of damaged roadway materials with base and asphalt pavement. Additionally, drainage systems along the roadways, and a total 76 spillway vent pipes that support the emergency spillway subdrain system will be excavated and replaced.

Plans are also in the works to upgrade the facility to handle a much higher capacity, nearly four times that of peak flood season, to prevent the flood damage that occurred in 2011.

Lower Yellowstone

The Corps awarded a US$1.68 million contract to Kovilic Construction Company for retrofitting work on the Lower Yellowstone project.

Owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and supported by the Corps, Lower Yellowstone Dam is on the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in Montana. The dam provides irrigation for agricultural operations in the area, making it one of the highest-producing regions of farmland in the state.

The project is funded through the Missouri River Recovery and Mitigation program, which provides work at Reclamation sites per the 2007 Water Resources Development Act.

Kovilic will retrofit the intake headworks of the Lower Yellowstone Diversion Dam to address frost heave concerns.

The project will be completed by November 1, 2012, says the Corp, because sub-slab frost will affect the irrigation canal in winter.

Raystown Lake

R. Zoppo Corp. has been awarded a contract to repair tainter gate seals at Raystown Lake Dam.

Located on the Juniata River in Hesston, Penn., Raystown Lake Dam is 225 feet tall and 1,700 feet long. The site is owned and utilized by the Corps for flood control and is the location of the 21-MW William F. Matson hydroelectric facility, operated through Alleghany Electric Cooperative.

The portion requiring repair is the tainter gates, utilized to control flood waters. Both gates are near the crest of the spillway. The US$894,950 contract requires repairs to the gate seal of one gate, with the available option to repair the other as well.

Zoppo will utilize 3D laser scan programming to create a survey of the gate; remove, clean and repaint bottom seal and side assemblies; clean and repaint the upstream surface of gate skin plate. Finally, new gate seals and assemblies will be installed on the gates.

Lake Shelbyville Dam

BCI Construction has received a contract worth US06,929 to construct a replacement sluice gate at Lake Shelbyville Dam in Illinois. The Corps’ St. Louis District solicited bids for the work last June.

The construction project will include demolition, concrete, hydraulic power unit rehabilitation, and electrical work.

The dam, on the Kaskaskia River in Illinois, does not have hydro generating capabilities but is being considered for installation of a 6.8-MW project.

Enid Dam

The Corps awarded Progressive Construction Co. LLC a contract for US$151,233 to perform flood control civil work at Enid Dam in Mississippi.

Work will include emergency spillway and interceptor toe ditch joint sealing. The contractor plans to remove and replace expansion joint material in vertical concrete wall monoliths of the approach and descent aprons of the emergency spillway and the dam toe interceptor ditch and outfall drain.

Reclamation awards contract for Echo Dam work

Utah-based Gerber Construction Inc. was awarded a US$9.1 million contract in September by the Bureau of Reclamation for spillway improvement work at 4.5-MW Echo Dam. Constructed on the Weber River, Echo Dam has a height of 158 feet. The earthfill dam contributes to the Weber River project, which helps irrigate about 109,000 acres of land. The dam is owned by Reclamation and operated by the Weber River Water Users Association.

The work is needed in response to prior studies at Echo Dam that indicated the foundation beneath the dam and spillway are potentially liquefiable, meaning the spillway and dam might deform during a “substantial” earthquake.

Scheduled work at the dam will include: installation of soldier piles on the left side of the spillway and excavation on the left and right sides; demolition of the parapet wall atop the dam and portions of the concrete spillway; jet grouting beneath the crest structure; installation of drains and filter material; construction of a new crest structure and parapet wall; installation of low-voltage electrical distribution equipment; and refurbishment of four gate hoists and four spillway radial gates.

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