Dam prob­lem

Leaks lower wa­ter in Turner Lake

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­news.com

The Turner Lake dam is leak­ing.

It’s not “Shark­nado” bad. It’s not about to burst and un­leash a tor­rent of rag­ing bass and cat­fish.

But it is “de­fi­cient,” ac­cord­ing to an engi­neer­ing re­port re­quested by the county. And it’s low­ered the wa­ter in the lake by about two feet al­ready.

Tues­day night, the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to spend $7,500 (no more than $10,000 if more work winds up be­ing needed) for a quick fix on the dam. Chair­man Keith El­lis said the work should last “for the next 20 years or so.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Schn­abel Dam Engi­neer­ing Inc., en­gi­neers stud­ied the dam on July 9, not­ing sev­eral spe­cific prob­lems. The wa­ter loss ap­peared to be caused by faulty cor­ru­gated metal pipe riser and con­duit, which has been re­paired in the past. Ex­cept for the dam’s crest, which is topped by a paved path, the struc­ture is over­run by trees and brush. The down­stream slope is too steep and ero­sion has oc­curred near the pipe’s out­let.

“Based on our ob­ser­va­tions and past ex­pe­ri­ences (the dam) should be con­sid­ered de­fi­cient,” Schn­abel prin­ci­pal engi­neer Joseph Mon­roe wrote in his re­port. He rec­om­mended longterm fixes in­clude re­mov­ing the trees and brush, re­plac­ing the pipe with a new siphon sys­tem, flat­ten­ing the dam’s slopes and rais­ing its crest “if needed.”

But that’s ex­pen­sive, and the county’s bled dry. The com­mis­sion­ers in­stead chose to adopt the rec­om­mended short-term op­tions of plug­ging the pipe with con­crete (de­signed to ex­pand through any breaks and plug gaps) and re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing the ex­ist­ing siphon sys­tem.

El­lis said the plan is to pump 150 cu­bic feet of con­crete into the drain pipe. The work will cost about $7,500, ac­cord­ing to a ver­bal quote he re­ceived from a con­trac­tor. Although that amount is in his purview to spend as com­mis­sion chair­man, he asked the coun­cil for a vote to sup­port his de­ci­sion to move ahead with the project. He got it, with com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz adding the pro­viso that the cost not ex­ceed $10,000.

The money will come from the county’s cap­i­tal fund. El­lis said work should be com­pleted “on or be­fore Septem­ber 4.”

The work may in­clude low­er­ing the lake’s wa­ter level by another 16 to 24 inches, El­lis added.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

County officials say the dam at Turner Lake will be re­paired in com­ing weeks.

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