Officials lower Lake Manatee water level to protect 'distressed' dam

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 17, 2014 

MANATEE -- Engineers were continuing to evaluate the stability of the Lake Manatee Dam on Monday after county officials last week warned its clay core may have been compromised.

The base of the dam was still intact, and its neighbors had not been evacuated Monday morning, said Bruce MacLeod, superintendent of Manatee County's Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant.

Workers are slowly bringing the level of the lake down to 38 feet from its capacity of 40 feet as a precautionary measure, he said.

"We're bringing the lake down to 39.09 this morning," he said, referring to the water level in feet. "We're heading down to 38 (feet), and doing a very slow release," he added. "We don't want tail water on the backside."

County officials last week warned that heavy rains could compromise parts of the dam, which engineers said was in a "severely distressed" state.

Without immediate intervention, engineers predicted a high risk of an uncontrolled release.

The water treatment plant in the eastern sector of Manatee County, at 7914 Waterline Road, provides drinking water to Manatee County residents.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.

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