Polk County to spend $32k for Turner Shoals dam inspection

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

County engineer says dam in good condition

Polk County commissioners approved a $32,290 proposal from AECOM Technical Services Inc. to perform required inspections on the Turner Shoals Dam at Lake Adger.

Commissioners met Sept. 9 and also heard from county engineer Dave Odom that the dam is in good condition and the only reason the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) classifies the dam as high hazard is because of the road and population around the dam.

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Commissioner Ted Owens said he’s had several people mention the danger of the dam following news reports and asked Odom to clarify.

Odom said the high hazard classification has nothing to do with the condition of the dam.

“The dam is completely safe right now,” Odom said. “It’s actually in very good condition considering its age.”

Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked if the Turner Shoals Dam were a new dam would it still be classified as high hazard.

Odom said if it were a brand new dam it would still be classified as high hazard because of the potential impacts if the dam ever breeched.

“Just the fact that Hwy. 9 is below it, it would still be classified as high hazard,” Odom said. “There are other dams in this county classified as high hazard. It has nothing to do with the dam or the size of the lake; just what would happen if it breeches.”

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sent the county a letter in June reviewing its annual visual inspection of the dam, which was done on April 24 this year. DENR’s letter, sent by Laura C. Herbert, PE, regional engineer, reviewed issues with the Turner Shoals Dam and is requiring a special inspection in addition to the required inspection every five years.

The letter stressed the importance of maintaining the dam, the dangers of dam failure and said that DENR continues to list the Turner Shoals Dam in the “high hazard” category.

“In the event of a dam failure, human life and significant property would be endangered because of the downstream location of NC Highway 9, other roads, and possibly residences,” Herbert said in the letter. “During this inspection we investigated the potential for property damage and loss of life in the event your dam fails. This investigation determined that failure of your dam could result in serious property damage and possible loss of life. Therefore, we continue to list your dam in the “High Hazard” category.”