The structure holding back Berkeley Lake’s namesake body of water has been a primary concern of city leaders for nearly two years.
In September 2009, workers spotted problem areas on the dam resulting from the historically high volumes of rain received that year. Ever since that discovery, engineers and technical experts have prepared corrective plans while city leaders devised funding alternatives to make the fix.
Now Berkeley Lake Mayor Lois Salter is pleased to report that a significant milestone has been reached in the repair process.
“I think people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s been a long tunnel,” Salter said.
Last week, representative from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Safe Dams program met with city engineers to complete a preliminary review of the dam’s repair plans.
Salter said Safe Dams experts had a few minor questions for engineers to address before a final plan review is completed, possibly sometime in the next two weeks.
“As frustrated as some people have been about waiting for Safe Dams to sign off, we have to respect how seriously they take these safety issues,” she said. “When they sign off, they are signing off on people’s safety for many years to come.”
With the final plan approval complete, city leaders can bid out the repair job. A short list of potential firms was vetted during the planning process to help speed up bidding procedures.
Timetables for the repair effort are being revised to reflect the latest developments. Depending on weather and other factors, the city should begin lowering lake levels on or about Sept. 15.
Salter said water has been pumped from the lake since September 2009 to maintain safe levels, but the lake must be lowered further to accommodate the repairs.
“There will probably be water out in the deepest parts, but the area closest to the dam that would be pressing on it is going to have to be removed,” Salter said.
Crews will remove the existing dam embankment beginning around Dec. 2. New materials will be added beginning as early as April 6 with the dam completely finished by July 30, 2012.
Salter said engineers have produced a design that will require only routine maintenance and monitoring for the next 100 years.
“We are building this thing for the long term,” she added.
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