Council approves dam gate repairs


The north gate is malfunctioning on the dam at the Tar River Reservoir.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rocky Mount is having dam problems again.

For the second time in a year, a gate at the Tar River Reservoir is malfunctioning.

The City Council unanimously approved emergency action at its meeting Monday, meaning city staff can move forward with bidding out repair work without the normally-required advertising period.

City workers noticed the north gate had lowered about four feet over the weekend due to an equipment malfunction. The workers tried to raise the gate, but the hydraulics wouldn't work

Fixing the gate will cost around $175,000, said Jonathan Boone, the city's director of public works and water resources.

"Due to the unique nature of the work, however, it is difficult to know how contractors will quote this work," Boone said. "While similar to the work on the south gate, the configuration of the dam and access constraints will make work on the north gate a bit more challenging."

The resevoir's two gates were in their full upright position on Saturday. The south gate, repaired in June, remains in its fully upright position.

The reservoir was approximately 122.6 feet and dropping Sunday. It's expected that the reservoir will continue to drop until reaching an elevation between 120 and 121 feet, according to city staff.

“The Tar River is expected to remain within its banks,” Boone said.

The south gate malfunctioned most recently during Hurricane Matthew. The city hired an experienced engineering firm to assess the dam’s condition after Matthew caused large water flows.

All three hydraulic cylinders controlling the south gate were removed, rebuilt and reinstalled.

While there were no signs of comprised functionality to the north gate when the dam was assessed, the decision was made to ultimately rebuild the hydraulic cylinders at the north gate once voluntary water conservation season ended, Boone said.

The season, which takes place June 1 to Nov. 1, requires the mandatory release of a specified amount of water downstream. As a precautionary measure, north gate repairs were scheduled to take place at the end of the conservation season to ensure an adequate water supply during such a high demand period.