In Oct. 9-15 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
"We have a schedule for starting up operations very soon," said Stefano Valagussa. "We're working to get everything ready to get on the ground."
Valagusse is the special projects manager for the company that will be taking the repair of Wolf Creek Dam to the next level, Treviicos Solentanche JV.
Some of the last paperwork hurdles have been surmounted and the US Army Corps of Engineers has issued what they call a "notice to proceed," to the company.
The Corps' on-site engineer for the project Tyrone Crear said that he met with other Treviicos staff at the dam this Tuesday and said that safety and scheduling paperwork was done and the company was scouting not just where to put equipment at the project but also where to locate their families as they live here for the three or more years needed to make the repairs.
Valagussa said they are looking for a combination of homes or apartments to rent as well as homes to purchase, especially those close to the dam.
In all, he said, they will be bringing as many as 50 of their own staff to work on the project, with that amount in flux as some come in and train local workers to do the work and then depart for those specialists who are needed for the next portion of the project.
Within a year they anticipate hiring as many as 100 people locally to work on the dam.
Those local workers need not apply just yet, since the company hasn't even gotten their offices set up in the county, adding that work will ramp up slowly and it could be the middle of the second quarter of 2009 before any serious hiring begins.
Crear said the company has reported they will be doing grading work, modifying the catchment ponds below the dam and installing more piezometers and inclinometers within the next few months.
"It will be later in December before we begin work on the platform," Valagussa said.
Crear explained that the present work platform on the up-stream side of the dam will have to be improved and widened before the heavy work of installing the cutoff wall begins.
The contract for this $341 million project was let in July for the 275 foot deep 4,200 foot long wall to be built inside the earthen portion of the dam.
That dam was finished in 1949, one year later it had reached its pool level before it reached very high levels in the 80s and 90s due to flooding downstream.
Before that it had undergone serious repairs in the early 70s and has since been under close scrutiny before the Corps announced in January of 2007 that even more extensive repairs were necessary.
The concerns were over infiltration of water through the dam, and the appearance of previously unseen "wet spots," below the dam.
Similar problems had lead to the earlier repairs, which took years, involved the installation of a wall into the earthen portion of the dam.
The Corps says that the new wall is both longer and goes deeper than the repairs made 30 years ago.
In the recent round of work much of a peninsula beside the dam was blasted out to fill in an area beside the dam for equipment and to accommodate a new boat launching ramp and parking lot.
That work proceeded as a comprehensive grouting program was started and then ended about a year later.
As that project was halted there had been warnings from the Corps about ground movement in the area where the earthen portion of the dam surround the northern end of the concrete section.
That area has been designated as "Critical Area 1" by the Corps and is one of a couple of sites within the dam that the Corps has said are the most problematic.
At that time there was speculation by those familiar with the project as well as some at the Corps that the grouting procedures could have been generating some of the newest movement at that critical area and grouting work was stopped there before it was stopped on the rest of the dam.
"Our instruments are showing us that settlement has significantly decreased since grouting ceased," said Allison Jarrett, a Corps information officer. "Wet areas are still decreasing below the dam."
She added that they could not say exactly how much of that drying was due to the drought, how much was due to the lowered lake level and how much was a result of the repairs already made since the project began.
An official announcement detailing much of what the Corps and construction officials said here is expected later this week.