News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 24, 2014

Officials weigh 2 options for dam

DNR: Structure must protect against 11” rain over 6 hours

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Reconstructing Fowler Park Dam to meet state requirements will cost $600,000.

The Vigo County Parks and Recreation Board heard two options from Joseph Miller, project engineer for Banning Engineering, hired by the county to conduct a study of the dam. The dam holds in water for Ruble Lake, named after long-time former superintendent Keith Ruble.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources required the study after it notified the parks department the dam’s principal spillway needed to be replaced and that all trees within 25 feet of the base of the dam must be removed under newer federal regulations.

In addition, the county did not have a geotechnical study of the dam on file. The DNR also stated the back slope of the dam was too steep. And finally, DNR stated a water line over the top of the dam must be removed.

Miller offered two options, the first costing $750,000, which would have replaced the principal spillway and create a 150-foot-wide spillway at the center of the dam.

The second option, at $600,000, would also replace the principal spillway but create a smaller, 100-foot-wide spillway over the center of the dam. The dam would be improved using concrete articulated blocks tied together with wire and covered with dirt.

This option would also create another spillway on the east side of the dam, which would flow past a barn at the park’s Pioneer Village.

Board member Eddy Adams said if water were to enter into this spillway, it would likely flood only the first level of the barn and not destroy the structure. “This would be the most economical and cost-beneficial way to do this and [it] gets the job done,” Adams said.

Miller said the design would meet DNR standards to withstand 11 inches of rain in a six-hour period, which “is far more water than in the flood of 2008,” he told the board. If the water were greater, it would flow down into the spillway east of the dam, past the Pioneer Village.

The board voted to approve the $600,000 option and gave approval for Parks Superintendent Kara Kish to seek funding options.

Kish said the park’s operating budget balance, funding that was placed into the budget in the event of an emergency, was $862,476 as of Monday. Kish recommended the parks department offer to use $200,000 of that, leaving the parks department enough to fund the department for six months in the event of unforeseen expenses.

Kish and assistant superintendent Adam Grossman told the board they are scheduled to meet Wednesday with the Vigo County Board of Commissioners to seek the remaining funds from the county’s Economic Development Income Tax.

“We have exhausted all grant opportunities,” Kish told the board. “Because this dam is not a high-hazard designation (meaning its failure would result in the damage of many homes and buildings), it falls to the bottom of the list for grant funds.”

Kish said the park’s lake provides recreational activities and creates an economic impact for the county, attracting annual visitors. “This would be an appropriate use of the EDIT fund,” she told the board.

If funding cannot be found, the county has no option but to drain the lake to meet DNR requirements, Kish said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.