In Nov. 20-26 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
“They've been starting the preliminary ground work,” said Project Manager David Hendrix. "They've moved office trailers in and doing some surveying."
He said the contractor, Triviicos Soletanche JV, will likely start bringing heavy equipment into work on Wolf Creek Dam by sometime in mid-December.
As to the dam's condition Hendrix said it has become more stable since they halted grouting last summer. He said the settling where the earthen portion wraps around the north end of the concrete section, "has basically stopped."
The amount of water infiltrating through the dam and showing up on instruments downstream is showing, "slight improvement," Hendrix said.
There is a major issue to be resolved with the way the project will be funded. Hendrix explained that depending on how the project is classified electric company customers could be paying the bill for much of the work, or a small portion.
If the work is classified as a Major Rehabilitation Project, the Southeastern Power Administration will be footing 55 percent of the bill for the repairs to Wolf Creek Dam.
“They will recoup that money from the electric providers they sell the power to,” Hendrix said. “Indirectly it will be coming out of their customers pockets then.”
If the project is a Dam Safety Assurance Project the power provider will pay 15 percent of the cost.
“That's a $250 million difference,” Hendrix said.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is locked into certain criteria for deciding which type of project it is and this one, "straddles the line," on which it is, the project manager said.
The decision will likely be part of the bill from congress which provides the funds for the project, he explained.
In either case the company which sells the power generated by the dam will be responsible for paying back its portion over a number of years.
The situation is different from that being felt by the municipalities around Center Hill Lake in Tennessee. That dam is suffering from the same sort of problems as Wolf Creek Dam, but unlike this area the water companies that use the lake have an agreement similar to the one with the power broker and so the City of Cookeville recently received a $1.4 million bill for the work scheduled on that dam.
They are to begin either begin paying a portion of that bill yearly or pay the total at the conclusion of the construction project. Other water users are being billed as well as the Southeastern Power Administration which faces the bulk of the cost, $114 million for that project.