San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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April 28th, 2009
Kyle dam to be rehabbed through 2009 stimulus

STAFF REPORT

Plum Creek Floodwater Retaining Structure No. 5, a dam, near Kyle, is among the structures being rehabilitated through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation program.The USDA is providing $2 million to the Plum Creek dam as part of $45 million being allocated nationwide through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project is expected to provide 35 area jobs.

The dam will be rehabilitated so it meets current design criteria and performance standards.

The original Plum Creek Watershed Plan called for the construction of 21 dams. Eighteen were built from 1962-1975. Urban development has occurred adjacent and below Plum Creek Dam No. 5, causing concern regarding the hydraulic capacity of the dam, as well as human health and safety.

Dam No. 5 has since been reclassified as a high hazard dam and is not in compliance with current dam safety and performance criteria. Floods in the past 45 years has caused the dam to use it’s axillary spillway.

Officials predict that if the dam were to breach, the 30,000 cubic yards of earth used in its construction would move downstream, clogging stream channels and increasing flooding on roads and bridges.

The estimated damage from a breach would approach $3 million, along with a significant loss of human life. There are 35 residents, one public property and three roadways with an average daily traffic count of 2,100 vehicles in the area that could be affected.

Rehabilitation will include raising the top of the dam by 3.5 feet with earth fill, installing a new 24-inch hooded inlet-type principal spillway, connecting the existing and new principal spillway outlets to discharge into a newly installed impact basin, instillation of a toe drain system, lowering the axillary spillway crest by .04 feet and installing a splitter dike.

“It is estimated that the rehabilitation of Plum Creek Dam No. 5 will create 20 jobs,” said Don Gohmert, a Texas State Conservationist who works with the NRCS. “With another 15 jobs created by industries supplying or supporting construction activities, and the industries that sell goods and services to these workers and their families. The influx of 35 jobs will provide significant economic benefits for the local communities within the project area.”

The project also will also increase the demand for construction supplies and equipment, which would pump approximately $3 million in federal and non-federal funds directly into the local economy. The federal government will provide $2 million of that amount.

“But,” Gohmert added, “the most important thing is the lifespan of the dam will be extended anopther 50 years, and the benefits it provides in protecting lives, homes and businesses from flooding for a growing area of Kyle.”

State and local sponsors will provide 35 percent of funding for their projects. The sponsors for the Plum Creek Dam are the Plum Creek Conservation District, Caldwell-Travis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Hays County SWDC and the NRCS.

The rehabilitation of the dam is authorized and under the authority of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, as amended by the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Amendments of 2000.

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