Construction Underway for W.C. Austin Project, Safety of Dams Modification

Media Contact: Matt Warren, (405) 470-4830, mwarren@usbr.gov

For Release: April 10, 2017

ALTUS, Oklahoma -- The Bureau of Reclamation awarded an $8,906,175 contract to Meridian Contracting, Inc. on September 9, 2016 for the W.C. Austin Project (Project), Safety of Dams Modification.

"The Bureau of Reclamation is aware of the importance of the W.C. Austin Project (Lugert-Altus Reservoir) to the citizens and economy of southwest Oklahoma," said Oklahoma-Texas Area Manager, Mark Treviño. "The ongoing construction at the Project will reduce the risk to downstream property and the public during extreme flood events, and will ensure the Project continues providing a reliable water supply well into the future."

The Project is located on the North Fork of the Red River in southwest Oklahoma and includes Lake Altus-Lugert. The Project was authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of June 28, 1938 with construction completed in 1945. The Project, which is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, consists of Altus Dam, five earthfill dikes, and approximately 270 miles of canals and laterals. Project benefits include irrigation of approximately 48,000 acres of privately owned land; augmentation of the municipal water supply for the City of Altus; flood control benefits on the North Fork of the Red River; and recreation and fish and wildlife conservation benefits. Operation and maintenance responsibility for the Project has been transferred to the Lugert_Altus Irrigation District.

The Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978 (as amended) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to construct modifications to Bureau of Reclamation facilities for safety concerns. This modification includes: 1) installing filtered seepage collection systems in the Lugert and East Dike drains to minimize probability for internal erosion through the foundations of the dikes and 2) raising the crest elevation of all 5 dikes to avoid overtopping during extreme flood events. This modification will maintain all authorized W.C. Austin Project purposes while reducing the risk of dam or dike failure, thereby reducing risk to downstream property and public safety. An Environmental Assessment was provided for public review and comment resulting in a Finding of No Significant Impact, which were both finalized and signed in February 2016.

Construction of the modifications began in January 2017 and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2018.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

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