The City of Ardmore recently entered into a $1.8 million contract with Stantech Consulting Services Inc. to assess the condition of two of the dams at city owned lakes. The assessment consists of three different services: The condition and safety of City Lake, the condition and safety of Mountain Lake, and design for a modernization effort for the flood gates at Mountain Lake.
Shawn Geurin, director of public works, said this is the next step in the process of modernizing the city’s water infrastructure.
“We’ve spent a lot of money over the last 20 years. We’ve refurbished the old waste water plant and built it up to speed. We’ve updated the water treatment plant and expanded its capacity. We’ve put in the new water tower on North Commerce. We’ve put a lot of money into the water and sewer pipelines, and our next phase is looking into our lakes,” Geurin said.
While the city has already done an initial assessment of its dams, Guerin said this second assessment will be more “boots on the ground.” He said Stantech will be doing a thorough investigation of exactly what the city has and how to best make repairs and maintain them in the future.
He said one of the biggest issues at City Lake is there are no plans or blueprints from the dam’s original construction. In fact, they are unsure exactly when it was even built though their best guess is somewhere around 1910.
“So you’re looking at a structure that’s over 100 years old,” Geurin said. “We know that there was some work done on the dam and the spillway section in the 1950s but that’s about it.”
He said there are currently two small leaks in City Lake’s dam — one where the spillway meets the dam and one on the back side of the dam that only becomes apparent once the lake hits a certain elevation.
“Those are a couple of the issues they are going to take a look at for us,” Geurin said. “They’re also going to make some recommendations about some large trees that have been on the dam for some time that need to be removed.”
He said the situation over at Mountain Lake is similar. This lake was built around 1922 and is also showing some signs of aging, and one of the biggest issues there is the condition of the flood gates.
“In the 1950s they went back and they added another section to the top of the dam and they added the gates that are there now,” Geurin said. “We’ve done a lot of repairs on them over the years but there hasn’t been any major modification since then so you’re looking at a very old structure.”
Geurin said while the city gets the majority of its water from the Lake of the Arbuckles, which is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and distributed by the Arbuckle Master Conservancy District, these two lakes serve as important sources of a back-up water supply — not to mention they represent a significant investment for the city.
“You’re looking at tens of millions of dollars if you had to rebuild those dams,” Geuron said. “So if there was a major failure in one of them, you’re talking about a lot of money to come back and fix those things.”
Geurin said projects like this help prevent that sort of situation from ever occurring.
“This is going to help us maintain those lakes for another hundred years,” Geurin said. “It’s time to invest some money and some time on these.”
Guerin said the assessment project will be completed by the end of the fiscal year next June 30. At that point the city will look at the issues uncovered by the survey as well as the suggestions provided about the best way of making repairs and come up with a plan to move forward.