News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 3, 2013

Work under way to raise Hulman Lake dam

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Power lines are currently being relocated to allow for a more than $800,000 project to raise the level of Terre Haute’s Hulman Lake dam by about five feet, local officials said Tuesday.

The state of Indiana, through the Department of Natural Resources, is requiring that all dams whose breach would affect significant levels of infrastructure and homes be raised to a level to withstand a massive rain known as a “probable maximum precipitation” (PMP) event, Chuck Ennis, city engineer, told the Terre Haute Board of Sanitary Commissioners Tuesday.

For this area, a PMP event would involve 26 inches of rain in just six hours. The destructive flood of June 2008 resulted largely from 12 to 16 inches of rain falling within 24 hours, according to WSI Corp.

A breach of the Hulman Lake dam would flood about 4,000 residences, according to a 2011 study by Banning Engineering, a Plainfield-based firm hired by the city.

To help pay for raising the dam, the West Central Economic Development District, an economic development and planning organization, sought federal money through a state-administered Community Development Block Grant. Those efforts paid off and, last year, the state awarded Terre Haute $750,000 for the project. The city’s Sanitary District must kick in about $83,000.

Once Duke Energy relocates utilities, S & G Excavating, a Wabash Valley construction firm, can begin work raising the dam, said Terry Jones, an economic development planner with West Central.

S & G Excavating will also make improvements to the dam’s emergency spillway, which helps regulate water flow in the event of major rain storms, Jones said.

Hulman Lake is on Hulman Street between Fruitridge Avenue and Indiana 46/U.S. 40 on the east side of town. Water from the lake eventually flows west to Thompson Ditch, a major part of the city’s flood control system.

The Hulman Lake Dam performed well during the 2008 flood, according to the Banning study.

n Also Tuesday, the Terre Haute Sanitary Board, meeting in City Hall, learned that preliminary tests indicate high concentrations of lead in the soil at the former Sugar Creek Scrap site near the Wabash River. Lead is a by-product of burning coal and is not uncommon in the area, Ennis said.

“We have a problem with lead everywhere in the city,” he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took samples of soil and water at the site in February after local officials found large quantities of industrial waste, including 55-gallon barrels, at the site.

The final EPA test results are still not available but are expected soon. EPA officials could not be reached Tuesday for additional comment.

The Terre Haute Sanitary District is concerned with the former Sugar Creek Scrap site, which is now owned by the City of Terre Haute, because the Sanitary District intends to construct a “floatable control structure” – part of the sanitary sewer system – on the property, which is west of Indiana 63 near the Hulman Street intersection.

Another floatable control structure, which captures floating debris in the combined stormwater/sewer system, is set to be constructed near Spruce and First streets. Plans for the Spruce Street structure are ahead of schedule, Ennis told the board. Testing at the former Sugar Creek Scrap site have put that project a little behind schedule, he said.

The five-person Sanitary Board is appointed by the mayor to oversee the city’s sanitary sewer system.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or