Advocating for the best Turner Shoals Dam rehabilitations

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Editor’s Note: The following was presented by Sky Conard at the March 20, 2017 Polk Board of Commissioner meeting during citizen comment period.

President Donald Trump pledged to Congress to roll out a $1 trillion aging infrastructure rebuilding program. Our 92-year-old high hazard Turner Shoals Dam infrastructure sure needs a piece of that pie to help offset upcoming costs for safe and adequate repairs, rehabilitations and upgrades deemed necessary in the ongoing AECOM Comprehensive Stability Evaluation.

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act signed into law in 2016 authorized a national dam rehabilitation/repair program, which once funded and if funded, could help Polk County immensely. When this federal program gets fully appropriated, the provision has the potential to help repair the nation’s highest priority dam safety projects, like ours. Turner Shoals is a non-federal (non FERC dam), it’s high hazard, it’s indeed aged and upgrades are crucial so it can hold the region’s planned public water supply reservoir — Lake Adger.

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According to the Association of State Dam Safety officials, the cost to rehabilitate just the most critical high hazard dams would cost the nation nearly $22 billion. The estimated cost to rehab just the state of North Carolina high hazard, non-federal dams (like ours) is $1.9 billion and 44 dams in North Carolina may qualify for these national rehab funds.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has issued their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card ( Here are some facts worth knowing:

• North Ccarolina dams get a “D” grade. The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure.

• 1/3 of North Carolina’s dams are more than 50 years old. Turner Shoals is 92!

• 44 dams in North Carolina may qualify for national rehab funds, but we need to advocate together for Turner Shoals to be one of those.

• Nearly half of all states have a grant or low interest revolving loan program, which could make the potential federal funds go even further.

• Dam failures not only risk public safety, they could cost Polk County millions in damages and result in the impairment of many other related infrastructure systems, like our future regional water supply plan.

I would like to ask Polk County Board of Commissioners, Broad River Water Authority, Inman Campobello Water District and Tryon International Equestrian Center to help me with advocating to our governor, state legislators and representatives in Washington to support the federal infrastructure funding program and provide sufficient resources to make our Turner Shoals Dam safety repairs really happen in 2017 and the best they can be.

Sky Conard, Mill Spring, N.C.