DENR confirms Polk County’s Turner Shoals Dam not in danger

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed this week that Polk County’s Turner Shoals Dam is listed as “high hazard” solely because of the potential loss of property and life if the dam ever breeches, not because of the dam’s current condition.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners reported during its Sept. 9 meeting that the state only has the Turner Shoals Dam at Lake Adger classified as “high hazard” because it is near a major highway (Hwy. 9) and residences. Commissioners and county engineer Dave Odom had said if the dam were brand new, the state would still classify the dam as high hazard because of its location. DENR Regional Engineer Laura Herbert confirmed this week that listing the Turner Shoals Dam in the high hazard category was done strictly because of the potential that lives and property could be lost if the dam breeched.

Herbert said the state is pleased Polk County is moving forward with additional inspections of the dam as requested and that the county has an emergency response plan in place. The emergency response plan details what the county or dam owner would do in case of an emergency, including the chain of command and how the dam owner will notify nearby residents in case of an emergency.

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Commissioners approved a $32,290 contract with AECOM Technical Services Inc. in September to perform inspections of the Turner Shoals Dam requested by DENR.

The inspections will include an underwater inspection, which has not been done in recent years. The state already requires the county to have a routine inspection of the dam every five years.

Repairs are needed to the Turner Shoals Dam, which was constructed in 1925, to comply with new regulations. Odom said over time, the county knows it is going to have to complete repairs to meet new earthquake and flood stability requirements.

Odom told commissioners last month that considering the dam’s age, it is in very good condition.

The county plans to have the inspections completed over the next few months.