Engineers consulted to determine potential fixes to the Lake Manatee Dam reaffirmed what Manatee County Government staff already knew: any risk of flooding can be mitigated prior to the rainy season.
In a memo to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Friday, Mike Gore, county utilities director, said engineers will make a final recommendation on repairs to the dam sometime late next week.
“We are confident that this matter is well under control and mobilization and work will have commenced by April, and the most crucial measures completed by June 1,” Gore wrote to commissioners.
In studies conducted over the last several weeks, county staff determined that 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.
Staff conducted coring techniques — accessing the heart of the dam by drilling into different areas of the core and lowering cameras into the holes, to capture below the surface.
Engineers were tasked to determine whether the soil protecting the core on the upstream side of the dam is loose — and how big of a fix is required.
If the soil is loose, water can seep through and reach the core.
If that happened, the core would start to erode and fail to prevent the excess flow of water.
Without controlling how much water flows out of the dam, flooding can occur, threatening 18 homes located downstream from the dam’s location on Waterline Road.
In the memo, Gore defended the construction methods used to build the 48-year-old dam, calling them “standard operating practices at the time.”
Gore suggested several repair methods are being considered, including jet grouting — a process using a “jet” of fluid to break up and loosen a surface.
“But additional methods exist that may be more conducive and economical to our specific situation,” Gore wrote.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected]@yourobserver.com.