Engineers 'confident' they can prevent collapse at Lake Manatee Dam

HERALD STAFF REPORTFebruary 28, 2014 

Officials are continuing to slowly lower water levels at the Lake Manatee dam as engineers investigate the integrity of the walls and the clay core of the dam, which they warned could be compromised by heavy rains. Shown is an access road which goes over the spillway. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- Engineers are "confident" they can mitigate any risk of collapse at the Lake Manatee Dam before the rainy season, the county's utilities director said Friday in a status update to county commissioners.

Manatee County's consultants expect to make a final recommendation on repairs to the dam sometime late next week, Utilities Director C. Mike Gore wrote in Friday's memo.

"We are confident that this matter is well under control and mobilization and work will have commenced by April and the most crucial measures completed by June 1," Gore wrote.

A supplemental dam inspection by consulting engineers two weeks ago found the dam was in a "severely distressed state" because of erosion at the 50-year-old dam. Officials warned that heavy rains over four or five days could compromise parts of the dam.

Extensive studies since then have been consistent with those original findings, Gore said.

"This week's investigation has confirmed these conditions are typical of earthen dams of this age and service length," his memo states. "Construction methods utilized 50 years ago might not be what would be utilized today but were standard operating practices at the time."

The county will have several options for remediation, including "jet grouting," Gore wrote, "but additional methods exist that may be more conducive and economical for our specific situation."

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