PUBLIC WORKS DIGEST • JULY/AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012
he U.S Military Academy at WestPoint, N.Y., is home to 10 percento the Army’s dams. Maintainingall 22 dams involves a continuous cycle o monitoring, inspection and repair. Beyondthe physical care required, emergency planning or the sizable dams ound in the West Point dam inventory is requisite.
A single project manager is charged with ownership o the dam program. Theproject manager retains visibility o theentire inventory.It is important that the dam projectmanager retains overarching visibility o all dam repairs even i the repairs aremanaged by other individuals. The damproject manager is West Point’s link tothe other agencies that have a role in dammaintenance and repair and in emergency preparedness.Monitoring is also a community responsibility. “High hazard” and“signiicant hazard” dams have beenposted with signage in close proximity that indicates the dam name, the locationand the contact numbers. Although nottechnically trained in most cases, localcommunity members are capable o noticing changed conditions, and theirinsight is part o the ormula or ensuringdam saety.
The Corps o Engineers is West Point’sprinciple dam inspection agency. TheCorps brings a wealth o experience todam management. The New York District,in particular, includes several well versedexperts accomplished at dam inspection. Inaddition, the district has access to industry experts who can assist with every aspecto dam inspection rom diving to wallconstruction. The dam project manager assuresannual and periodic dam inspections areconducted, in particular during and atersigniicant rainall events. The projectmanager identiies and prioritizes repairs. Aterward, the Work Management Boardassigns the repairs to the appropriateentity or execution, and actual repairs areinspected by the project manager. Again,keeping the project managerinvolved throughout the processensures consistency o repairacross the entire inventory o dams.
Repairs o WestPoint’s dams occurin many orms,because there issuch a variety o dam structures.For example, theMine Lake Dam,built in 1846, is a505-oot curvingdam constructed o local stones with a 10-to12-oot thickness at the base tapering toa 6- to 8-oot dimension at the top. Therepair design was 90 percent complete when Tropical Storm Irene arrived in August 2011. The entire 505-oot length was topped by a rush o water or severalhours. The dam was monitored during theevent or signs o ailure. Inspection aterthe event revealed that the ooting — made visible due to erosion — was constructeddierently than originally thought. Thisinding has led to a redesign. The Stillwell Dam is a 57.3-oot highconcrete structure built in 1948, the youngest dam in West Point’s inventory;the average dam age is 96 years. Recentrepairs to this dam include: cleaning therelie wells, dive inspection o the low leveldrain line, and repair and exercise o the valves. A gallery inside the base o the damallows personnel to walk the entire lengtho the dam to inspect or clogged relie wells and signs o structural ailure.Built on a seismic ault line, structuralinspections o this dam are in-depth. When repairing historic dams, Section106 o the National Historic Preservation Act o 1966 applies as it would with any historic structure. Consultation with theState Historic Preservation Oice is
Matt Talaber Photo by E. Campbell
Operations, Maintenance and Engineering
West Point manages large inventory of historic dams
by Matt Talaber
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Directorate of Public Works
State Historic Preservation Office
The 1846 Mine Lake Dam is topped during Tropical Storm Irene.Photo by T. CoughlinStillwell Dam, a placed concrete structure, has a gallery at the base that allows inspectors to walk the entire length of the dam’s interior.Photo by T. Coughlin