Red Willow Dam Report Expected Fall 2010

Media Contact: Terri Salter, (308) 389-5306
Marvin Swanda, (308) 345-1027

For Release: August 09, 2010

GRAND ISLAND, Neb.- The Bureau of Reclamation today issued an update on the activities concerning the Safety of Dams (SOD) issues at Red Willow Dam.

In Oct. 2009, Reclamation crews discovered a sinkhole on the face of the dam. Subsequent investigations revealed cracking through the embankment which prompted Reclamation to draw down Hugh Butler Lake, which is impounded by Red Willow Dam.

In Feb. 2010, Reclamation initiated a Corrective Action Study to develop and analyze alternatives for the repair of Red Willow Dam. Reclamation expects to select a preferred alternative this fall. Next, a modification report will be prepared and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and Congress for consideration in early 2011.

Reclamation estimates that a contract to begin modification of Red Willow could be expected as soon as late 2011. If the necessary requirements are met for this project, funds that are annually appropriated through Reclamation's Safety of Dams Program would likely be available to complete the necessary repairs.

"We are appreciative of the public and local landowners for their continued cooperation which has significantly helped ease the Corrective Action Process and other related activities," said Nebraska-Kansas Area Manager Aaron Thompson.

Reclamation will continue to provide updates and public meetings are planned for the fall. We will continue to maintain the reservoir level in the target range of 2552.0 to 2554.0 feet until the repairs are completed. Thompson said "As always, our top priority remains public safety and ensuring the integrity of our facilities."

Red Willow Dam, located on Red Willow Creek about 11 miles north of McCook, is an earth-fill embankment with a structural height of 126 feet that forms a reservoir of 85,070 acre-feet. A 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.

Current updates and information are available at:

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Nebraska-Kansas Area Office Home Page