EAST COUNTY — Initial repairs to the Lake Manatee Dam will cost $14.8 million, three times the initial estimate for the work.
The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract April 3 with Tampa-based Hayward Baker Inc. for first-phase repairs to the aging and eroding Lake Manatee Dam.
“This is a lot of money,” said Mark Simpson, Manatee County water division manager.
“But it’s a good news story. The dam didn’t fail. There was no loss of property or injuries. We found the problem. We have a methodology to fix it. And, we can get it done before putting anybody at additional risk.”
An annual inspection conducted by a private consultant determined the core of the dam, which provides drinking water to more than 300,000 residents in Manatee and Sarasota counties, may be compromised due to erosion.
Since county utilities staff informed commissioners Feb. 14 about repairs needed on the 50-year-old dam, an engineering firm had been inspecting it to define the specific fixes needed.
AMEC Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., determined repairs will be more extensive than originally thought and will be completed in two phases.
Specifically, compared to what staff had anticipated, a deeper section of the earthen core beneath the dam is compromised.
Costs for repairs were initially expected to run from $3 million to $7 million.
The $14 million contract with Hayward Baker Inc. only covers phase one repairs, which will be paid for with county utility systems reserves.
Phase one repairs will seal the seepage with a cement cutoff wall that will go 100 feet underground. Without those repairs, water would seep under the dam.
The second phase of repairs, which staff considers less critical, are still undefined. Potential funding sources for the second-phase repairs will be discussed at a county budget workshop this summer.
County staff emphasized second-phase costs would be much smaller than $14 million, but costs still have yet to be determined.
Hayward Baker has already mobilized at the dam to complete phase one work.
The majority of the work will be done by June 1, before the rainy season, but the complete phase one repairs will be finished by Oct. 31.
“You saved us from a very ugly time,” District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh told county staff. “This is something obviously we were going to do. We’ve had (the dam) for 50 years. What do you expect? It’s going to need some help.”
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].