Questions remain following spillway forum

Even after a host of state engineers and project leaders presented detailed information about the impending spillway project, questions among county officials and residents lingered after a public forum Wednesday night at The Lighthouse in Russells Point, cosponsored by the ILDC and Indian Lake Watershed Project.

spillway meeting 1

Project design engineer Rob Kirkbride shows a crowd of local residents and community leaders why the new spillway project is a necessity. (EXAMINER PHOTO | RICK PITTS)

Primarily, the effects on flooding events downstream — as well as upstream — and a pending county-led appeal on the new FEMA flood plain map continue to be a concern for nearby residents and the Logan County Commissioners.

While the final design won’t be set in stone for a couple more weeks, state officials outlined the year-long project that will replace the current 700-foot straight-line structure with a labyrinth, or accordion, design with a 160 foot section in middle set about 1.5 feet lower than the outer reaches. Officials said this 160-foot section will allow the same amount of water to flow over the dam as the entirety of the current structure, maintain current pool levels, and will be 4.5 times more efficient. The outer stretches would see little to no overflow except in extreme flood events.

Replacement of the entire dam will occur in two stages to maintain overflow, with 55 percent of the length done in one phase and the remainder completed thereafter.

Essentially, officials said nothing would change as far as the amount of water heading down river, but conditions are and will be monitored closely, and state officials will react accordingly to lower lake levels ahead of expected heavy rain events.

That raised concerns by local residents who are often affected, if not forced from their homes during major flood events — particularly in the area of Whispering Valley mobile home court. They and county officials asked if any consideration was given or funding budgeted to alleviate debris congestion downstream which hinders the flow of water away from the area. Officials said the plans were based on hydrology data collected by a contracted firm out of Chicago.


Final design: June

Permitting: June

Bidding/selection: Summer

Construction begins: Summer/fall


Design emulates existing ogee spillway up to 100-year storm
Smaller footprint for flow up to 100-year storm
Balances the downstream and upstream pool conditions
Additional capacity for storm events over 100-year storm

When pressed by Logan County Commissioner Dustin Wickersham, project leaders said they could not say how much has been budgeted for the project or give a cost estimate. The Examiner reported Wednesday it was an $8 million project, based on information received from state officials.

In conjunction with the Logan County Engineer’s Office and Logan County EMA, the Logan County Commissioners filed an appeal in March 2015 to fight the new FEMA-generated flood plain risk map for the affected area. Local officials believe the LIDAR aerial laser light technology used by the out-of-state contractor to determine the new flood plain elevation erroneously raised the flood plain by .2 of a foot, subsequently adding some 750 properties to the risk zone, and hundreds or even thousands of dollars to insurance premiums and surcharges imposed by the state.

Local EMA Director Helen Norris said the additional costs to property owners “range from ridiculous to insane” amounts, up to in some cases as much as $17,000 more a year just in insurance premiums. The commissioner said it amounts to about $500,000 more in insurance dollars collected for state coffers.

Read complete story in Thursday's Examiner
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