Engineers to submit plans to fix Lake Manatee Dam - WFLA News Channel 8

Engineers to submit plans to fix Lake Manatee Dam

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The dam that holds back Lake Manatee is in danger of breaking.

The lake is a major source of drinking water for the region, and officials say areas of the dam are eroding. So on Thursday, County Commissioners approved a plan to fix it.

The Manatee River carves a scenic path through Manatee County, filled with wildlife, and no one knows the area better than Mark Stukey.

“Bald eagles, I saw a handful of them around here the other day,” he said.

Stukey runs Ray's Canoe Hideaway. He lives and makes his living right along the Manatee River. But eleven years ago, the river came right up near his doorstep.

In June 2003, the area was hit by long lasting downpour of rain. The rising waters forced him to shut down his business.

“That was like five days of steady rain. It never stopped,” he said.

The reason can be found five-and-a-half miles upstream at the Lake Manatee Dam.

Stukey said workers released too much water. But now, there's a big problem.

Engineers recently found soil was eroding on the backside of the dam. If left untreated, the dam could break, disrupting the local water supply and flooding the area downstream.

So on Thursday, commissioners gave engineers permission to use a technique called jet grouting.

It's essentially a concrete wall that will be built around 100 feet underground. Officials say that should stop the erosion.

Manatee County Water Division Manager Mark Simpson said, "It uses the existing soil and adds cement to create a soil/cement substance and the jet grouting builds an actual column, and those columns are interlocked to create a wall."

The project will cost around $14.88 million, and should be completed by October 31st.

Stukey is in full support of the project, because he doesn't want the past to repeat itself.

The nearly $15 million repair bill will take care of the immediate issues that are plaguing this dam.

There are some additional repairs that may be done sometime later this year, and that will add to the county's costs.

Commissioners say they'll be able to pay for these repairs with money from their reserve budget.

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