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Repairs Made at High-Hazard NV Dam

Thursday, February 20, 2020

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At the end of January, state officials reported that initial repairs on the Cave Creek Dam at Nevada’s Cave Lake State Park in Ely, had been finished, marking the completion of the first phase of project’s rehabilitation plan.

The project is being conducted by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, in coordination with the Nevada Division of Water Resources and the Nevada Division of State Parks.

About Cave Creek Dam

Built in 1932, the 83-foot-tall Cave Creek Dam is what initially created the Cave Lake reservoir. In the infrastructure’s early days, it was used to supply water to a nearby ranch. Roughly 30 years later, the dam was widened, causing the surface area of the reservoir to expand to 32 acres.

In 1973, the reservoir and surrounding hills were listed as a state park, neighboring the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Famartin, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of January, state officials reported that initial repairs on the Cave Creek Dam at Nevada’s Cave Lake State Park in Ely, had been finished, marking the completion of the first phase of project’s rehabilitation plan.

Over time, however, the dam’s aging infrastructure proved to be weakening and, in August 2010, the Nevada Division of Water Resources conducted an inspection and recommended corrective action.

With project plans in the works and slated for release by the end of 2017, a consulting engineer estimated that the long-term rehabilitation project for the dam would cost roughly $3.4 million.

By June 2018, a state inspection revealed that the dam was in poor condition, adding that the spillway was undersized and that its capacity would need to be increased in order to “safely pass large storm events.”

If that wasn’t enough, Division of State Parks spokesperson Jenny Ramella also noted that a small whirlpool is causing a vortex under current flows, which poses as a potential threat to swimmers.

“Cave Creek Dam’s aging infrastructure, coupled with findings from a recent engineering assessment, indicate that the dam needs repair and improvements to help accommodate extreme weather storm events,” the department said in a statement.

Thus far, the Department of Wildlife has spent more than $900,000 on monitoring and analyzing the dam’s infrastructure, in addition to design mitigation alternatives and a feasibility study—slated to be completed by December 2021.

What’s Happening Now

Having commenced repair operations in October 2019, the Nevada Department of Wildlife first closed the reservoir temporarily so that water levels could be safely drained by roughly one-third of its current surface area. The endeavor not only provided increased safety, but also allowed for better access to work on stabilizing the structure.

By the end of January, officials reported that crews had installed a new gravel path next to the closed boat ramp—a ramp which will continue to stay closed throughout the five-year rehabilitation project—to provide the only safe entry point. The single-entry point is a result of the unstable shoreline.

While Chief engineer Rodd Lighthouse has stated that the department is “actively seeking and pursuing solutions to ensure that visitors can safely use the lake while dam rehabilitation efforts are ongoing,” continued efforts on the project’s long-term goals include enhancing stability through an expansion of the spillway and increasing the storm-water storage capacity.

“The Nevada Department of Wildlife, together with its partners, is committed to ensuring all Nevadans and visitors can continue to enjoy the myriad recreational opportunities and natural splendor that Cave Lake State Park has to offer,” said Lighthouse. “We appreciate your understanding as we complete these important upgrades at Cave Creek Dam to help ensure safe, memorable, and amazing recreational experiences for all.”


Tagged categories: Health & Safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Locks and dams; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair

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