Condition of lake’s relief valve has city treading carefully

Local officials continue carefully investigating another dam puzzle on the earthen structure, situated on the eastern end away from the concrete spillway.
On the lower portion of the southern slope, the dry side of the dam, city authorities are keen to test the original, decades-old relief valve. They’re warming up to the necessary task by degrees, concerned that without adequate precautions, the equipment could fail and drain the lake.
It’s yet another problem current leadership has inherited from previous regimes who didn’t ensure the dam was being maintained to the proper degree.
“The dam has been a story for a while now,” interim City Manager Charlie Smith told council members last week. As for the valve, “It has been covered with dirt and not exercised for years and years and years.”
There are actually two valves, one that relieves pressure on the dam, another that sends raw water to the nearby treatment plant.
Gladewater Fire Chief Mike Simmons and his team have exposed the valve, to a degree, but there’s more work to be done before they’re ready for a test. Things are on hold right now until the rain-drenched ground dries a bit.
“We discovered that the upstream pipe is encased in thick concrete,” Simmons noted. “Now we are in the process of excavating the end of the pipe in the creek to be able to expose the pipe and discover, is it a steel pipe? Is it a concrete pipe?”
The answers will determine how carefully they’ll have to be moving forward, i.e. what additional equipment they’ll have to install in order to stop the flow if the old valve fails.
“We started excavating last week, but due to the rain we’ve had to postpone the process until it’s drier due to be the ground be saturated and soft,” Simmons said. Likewise, “I’m afraid with as much rain as we’ve had it’ll be flowing too hard.”
Smith praised the team on the ground along with the city’s engineers.
“They’ve done a really good job on that with Schaumburg & Polk,” he said. They’ll move forward soon: “It’s something that we do need to take a look at and get that thing in order.”

By James Draper

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