Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Lois Conway
(308) 345-1020

Released On: January 23, 2012

Public Access Limited During Red Willow Dam Repairs
GRAND ISLAND, Neb.--The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that access to Red Willow Dam is restricted during construction and repair activities.

SEMA Construction of Centennial, Colo., has completed a significant amount of preparatory work and begun excavations at the Red Willow Dam site. For safety and security reasons, access to the construction site and travel across the dam will be off limits to the public during the construction period.

The northeast end of the dam is closed to the public. A small observation area at the southwest end of the dam has been constructed and is accessible by traveling north from McCook on Highway 83 for approximately 7 miles to Road 723, then proceeding west three-quarters of a mile to Road 383, north on Road 383 for one mile, west on Road 724 for one mile and then north on Road 382 for two-and-a-half miles.

SEMA Construction was awarded a contract of $15,346,900 in late Sept. 2011 to conduct extensive modifications of Red Willow Dam. Activities at the dam have included site mobilization, receiving and stockpiling gravel materials for filter construction, rerouting utilities, abandonment of several instrumentation sites, and removal and stockpiling of topsoil from the downstream face of the dam. SEMA construction is currently in the process of excavating the existing embankment.

Repairs to the dam, located 10 miles northwest of McCook, Neb., include excavation of the existing embankment and toe drain system; construction of filter/drainage blanket; construction of a two stage sand filter and coarse sand drain system, including a geotextile membrane; and construction of a downstream stability berm. Modifications will also occur downstream of the spillway and outlet works stilling basins, and limited portions of upstream dam face. A new drain system at the toe of the dam will be constructed, and additional monitoring wells will be installed.

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 uncontrolled 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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