Polk may close on Adger Nov. 13; repairs to dam estimated at $1.8 million

Published 4:34 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Commissioners met with attorney Billy Clarke with Roberts and Stevens, PA and Black & Veatch Engineers to review reports recently received on the condition of the dam.

Engineers said the study revealed approximately $1.8 million of repairs the dam will&bsp; likely need in the future, but they cautioned that contingency and unit prices may be low so repairs could be between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.

Commissioners questioned engineers on the timing of those costs and were told that about $2 million of repairs could be required by the state over the next four years.

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Black and Veatch engineers said the repairs to the dam were expected, considering the dam is approximately 90 years old. They called the opportunity for a secure water source &dquo;a bargain,&dquo; and a good value for Polk County. Engineers also estimated that to build a reservoir of Lake Adger&squo;s capacity today and a dam would cost more than $30 million.

Dave Odom, the county&squo;s engineer on overall projects, said after having worked on the county&squo;s water project for about three years he thinks purchasing the lake is the best option for Polk County.

&dquo;There&squo;s no question this is the way to go,&dquo; Odom told commissioners. &dquo;When you have to have (water), it&squo;s too late. I just think it&squo;s so wise to get this done to supply your water needs for the next 50 to 100 years.&dquo;

Engineers reviewed the potential problems with the dam,&bsp; include issues with bulkheads and the concrete of the dam. The studies concluded that if water were to rise over the top of the dam the structure would become unstable.

In any event in the dam&squo;s history, water has never risen to the top of the dam, county officials said. County manager Ryan Whitson said, &dquo;You&squo;re talking about a trillion gallons of water (to make the level reach that high).&uot;

Black & Veatch engineers agreed and said that would mean &dquo;a flood of Biblical proportions.&dquo;

Engineers concluded that currently, the dam is safe, but the state may require some repairs and at least a plan for repairs in the future.

Engineers also told commissioners that they will need to budget annually for maintenance to the dam, with a suggestion of $50,000 to $100,000 per year to maintain the structure.

The county will also need to add the structure to its insurance policy and is planning to check on those costs prior to closing on the property.

The county decided in May, 2008 to purchase the lake bed as a future water source from Northbrook Carolina Hydro, LLC. Northbrook will continue to operate its power plant located there. The county will be able to pull a maximum of eight million gallons of water per day out of the lake. Future plans are to gain permits and construct a water plant near the county&39;s transfer station to produce water for county residents. Initially, the county will need only a couple million gallons per day to operate a water plant.

The county is currently waiting for approval from the state to reclassify the Lake Adger watershed as a class III watershed as part of the requirements to use the lake as a water source.

Polk is moving forward with the reclassification despite not getting support from Henderson County, which is where most of the new watershed lies. It is unknown how long the reclassification process could take. Once it is approved, the county can move forward with receiving a formal permit from the state to use Lake Adger as a water supply.