Lake Manatee Dam repair report breaks Thursday, officials say

skennedy@bradenton.comApril 1, 2014 

MANATEE -- A report addressing proposed repairs to the eroding Lake Manatee Dam is expected Thursday during a Manatee County Commission meeting, officials said.

"We're very close," said Utilities Director Michael Gore referring to a formal recommendation to the commission about what repairs are needed.

Gore met Monday with County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, and final paperwork will be completed as soon as possible, he said.

His staff, contractors and engineers have been working nonstop to finalize a repair contract, he said.

"We know where we're at. We've known as far as the work needs to be done," he said. "There's a phase of work we'd like to get done by the middle of June. It looks like we're on schedule."

Gore's staff and a consultant will give a presentation at 1:30 p.m. Thursday outlining repair recommendations during a regularly scheduled land use meeting, according to Nick Azzara, county information outreach manager. The commission meets at County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

An investigation into the best way to deal with erosion threatening the

stability of the East Manatee dam has been under way since February.

The county engineer of record is Carollo Engineers Inc. of Sarasota. Its consulting firm is AMEC of Tampa.

"We're hopeful to have the information Thursday, and hit the ground running, and we're confident we're going to have the highest priority fixes completed in time for the rainy season," said Amy Pilson, public affairs liaison for the Manatee County Utilities Department.

Typically, the investigation would take several months, the design several more and implementation some more, said Pilson.

"We're trying to do them all at the same time," she said.

In February, an inspection by consulting engineers found the 50-year-old dam in a "severely distressed state" because of erosion. Officials warned heavy rains over four or five days could compromise the dam.

Workers at the Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant slowly brought down the lake level to 38 feet from its capacity of 40 feet as a precautionary measure. The dam supplies water to the county utility system through a treatment plant at 7914 Waterline Road.

Manatee County's utility system supplies drinking water to residents and sells Sarasota County more than half its water as well. The dam, completed in 1967, created the 1,800-acre Lake Manatee reservoir, which stores 7.5 billion gallons of water.

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

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