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Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:08

Lake J seeks state help for dam, sediment

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Lake Junaluska Assembly is asking Haywood County commissioners to help it land state grants for maintenance on the lake and dam.

The Assembly faces two major issues: repairs to the aging dam and sediment removal from the lake. An engineering study is needed for the spillways and gate controls in preparation for improvements to the dam.

Meanwhile, removing silt from the lake has become a regular maintenance chore every three to four years.

Lake Junaluska hopes to get $30,000 or 50 percent of the cost for the engineering from the state. The lake is seeking either $440,000 or 66.6 percent of the cost for the sediment removal project. In both cases the state would provide whichever is less.

The Assembly will pay for the rest from its own funds, according to Jimmy Carr, director of Lake Junaluska Assembly.

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners plans to vote on an endorsement of the application at its next meeting on Sept. 21, after wording on the proposal has been changed to ensure financial and legal responsibility for the projects rests solely with the Assembly. Once approved, Haywood County would request the state funds on the Assembly’s behalf.

The Assembly has already spent $3.3 million on renovating the dam over the past six years. While Carr says the dam is “very safe” and no critical improvements are needed, work on the dam is not over.

According to the Assembly, the spillway is not in as good a shape as hoped, but that there is no cause for alarm. The study would be part of a general effort to maintain the dam.

The goal of the proposed dam study is to have engineers determine the extent of problems with the spillway, so the Assembly can make financial and structural plans to fix them.

At the moment, the more costly project deals with sediment removal, with much of the expense going toward creating a disposal site on top of Sleepy Hollow Road on property the Assembly already owns.

While the cost of building such a site is “a big unknown,” the proposed disposal site could be used for decades to come, said Buddy Young, director of residential services, at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

Since 2001, the Assembly has done extensive sediment removal from Lake Junaluska.

“In one year, we removed 5,500 loads of silt from the lake,” said Carr. If it isn’t removed, it could fill the lake up over time, Carr said.

As development has increased on mountain slopes in recent years, so has erosion. Sediment washing off construction sites and into creeks is ultimately deposited in Lake Junaluska downstream.

According to Carr, there has been a lot of community support, both from Haywood Waterways Association and county officials, to enforce erosion policies.

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