Red Willow Dam Work Complete – Road Open

Media Contact: Aaron Thompson, (308) 345-1027

For Release: December 13, 2013

McCOOK, Neb. -- The Bureau of Reclamation's Nebraska-Kansas Area Office announced today that the Red Willow Dam modification project is substantially complete. The road over the crest of the dam is being reopened to the public effective December 14, 2013.

"We are very pleased to announce that the Red Willow Dam repairs have been completed, and public access has been restored to this vital multi-use facility," said NKAO Area Manager, Aaron Thompson. "With such a large and diverse group depending on Red Willow Dam for interests ranging from recreation to irrigation, I am proud of the collaborative efforts between Reclamation, local groups, and Reclamation's Technical Service Center, to ensure the successful completion of this important project."

The road across the dam crest has been repaved and a new guardrail has been installed. In addition, areas of the access road east of the dam were widened in the interest of public safety.

Other repairs to Red Willow Dam, located 10 miles northwest of McCook, Neb., included excavation of the existing embankment and toe drain system; construction of a filter and drainage blanket; construction of a two-stage sand filter and coarse sand drain system, including a geonet composite membrane; and construction of a downstream stability berm. Modifications also occurred downstream of the spillway and outlet works stilling basins, and limited portions of the upstream dam face. A new drain system at the toe of the dam was constructed and additional monitoring wells were installed.

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

Reclamation initiated a Corrective Action Study in Feb. 2010, and alternatives for the repair of Red Willow Dam were evaluated. After a public involvement process and Congressional approval, a $15.3 million contract was awarded for the Red Willow Dam Modification to SEMA Construction of Centennial, Colo. Construction and repair operations began in Dec. 2011, and were completed this month.

Red Willow Dam, located on Red Willow Creek about 10 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.

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Relevant Link:

Nebraska-Kansas Area Office Home Page