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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Tyler Johnson
406-247-7609
Peter Soeth
303-445-3615

Released On: September 27, 2011

$15.3 Million Contract Awarded for Red Willow Dam Modification
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor today announced that SEMA Construction of Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a contract of $15,346,900 to conduct extensive modifications of Red Willow Dam. The dam, located 10-miles northwest of McCook, Neb., was slated for repair after examinations by Reclamation crews in October 2009 discovered a sinkhole on the face of the dam. Subsequent investigations revealed embankment cracking, prompting Reclamation to lower Hugh Butler Lake, which is impounded by Red Willow Dam.

"With the award of this contract, we are making a major step forward in the process of updating this facility," Commissioner Connor said today. "This investment will ensure Red Willow Dam will continue to serve the people of Nebraska and the nation for future decades. This contract helps us restore one of our key structures and helps create job opportunities."

Using a formula developed in 2009 by the Council of Economic Advisors to calculate the impact of Federal investment, the Red Willow project is projected to generate more than 160 direct and indirect jobs for one year.

After Reclamation identified the dam safety issue, a Corrective Action Study was initiated in February 2010, and alternatives for the repair of the dam were evaluated. Reclamation issued a preferred alternative and a subsequent modification report was prepared and submitted to Congress for consideration and subsequent approval earlier this year.

Red Willow Dam is an earthfill embankment with a structural height of 126 feet that, when in operation, forms a reservoir of 86,630 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.

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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.