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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Army Corps: NE Ohio Dam Shaky, Needs Major Fix

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (TDB) -- An Army Corps of Engineers safety evaluation report recommends major repairs to the Dover Dam on the Tuscarawas River because the 1930s-era structure is a ''high hazard" likely to fail in a catastrophic flood. The concrete dam is about 80 miles south of Cleveland in rural Tuscarawas County, and the estimated costs of repairs range from $60 million to $150 million. Ohio's rivers rose after heavy rains over the weekend, and are just now beginning to recede.

An excellent photo of the dam is HERE. There is another HERE. The dam is part of the vast system in place to control flooding in Appalachia, and to aid commercial navigation on the Ohio River. The Corps studied removing the dam, but is not enthusiastic about tearing it down.

There is data about flooding in January 2005, when 11 dams faced the highest water since their construction. Information and pictures of the flooding is at the Corps WEB SITE.

The Corps published its recommendation for the dam Jan. 9 in the Federal Register, a few days before the heavy weather began to move in. ''This high hazard dam does not conform to current design standards related to stability and sliding during a probable maximum flood,'' the Corps reported.

The Army engineers said a maximum flood is considered extreme -- but everybody knows about what happened in New Orleans with the levees, also an extreme weather event. ''The Corps has determined the dam cannot safely accommodate flooding from theoretical probably maximum flood events. The dam is also believed to be unstable against sliding under condition below the probably maximum flood due to known faulting and uncertain foundation bedrock quality."

The Corps said it wants to raise the dam's height and lock it down by attaching strong steel-cable anchors in the bedrock. They believe the plan would shore it up to withstand a giant flood. Officials from the Huntington District of the Army Corps plan to hold a public meeting about the dam safety project Thursday in New Philadelphia. The Federal Register announcement is HERE.

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