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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Marvin Swanda
(308) 345-1027
Terri Salter
(308) 389-5306

Released On: December 11, 2009

Red Willow Dam Investigations Continue
The Bureau of Reclamation today announced that investigations will begin on the upstream face of Red Willow dam as early as the week of Dec. 14. A road will be constructed across the face of the dam near the intake structure of the river outlet works to allow access to the areas where additional excavations and investigations will occur. These activities are part of the continuing effort to determine the cause of embankment cracking at Red Willow Dam discovered during the week of Oct. 19 by maintenance crews.

Reclamation has established a target reservoir elevation of between 2,554 to 2,552 feet to support the investigation on the upstream face of the dam and to assure the safety of downstream areas. The releases from the reservoir have been reduced to 65 cubic-feet-per-second as the current elevation approaches 2,555 feet.

As the reservoir continues to be drawn down, the public should take caution if they will be ice fishing on the reservoir, since water levels could potentially drop at a greater rate than the ice cover.

Crews continue to monitor the dam, and the road across the crest will remain closed as these activities continue.

Because the activities at the dam will affect users through the summer of 2010, Reclamation is issuing regular updates at www.usbr.gov/gp/nkao/redwillow/ to keep the public informed.

Red Willow Dam, located on Red Willow Creek about 11 miles north of McCook, Neb. is an earthfill embankment with a structural height of 126 feet, which forms a reservoir of 85,070 acre-feet. An ungated concrete spillway is located in the right abutment. An outlet works through the base of the dam provides for river and irrigation releases for downstream diversions. The reservoir behind this dam is Hugh Butler Lake.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.