Meeting held for replacement of spillway at Hyrum Reservoir

WELLSVILLE – The dam at Hyrum Reservoir is fine, but the spillway needs attention.

A meeting was held Thursday night in the Wellsville city offices to address the issue of the deteriorating spillway originally built in the mid-1930s. Bureau of Reclamation engineer Mike Talbot described multiple problems with the structure including foundation erosion, voids under the concrete and cracking along the concrete slabs.

“Slowly, over time, the spillway is collapsing,” he said. “If we don’t do something about it, it will just fail. We need to do something about it.”

According to Talbot, potential problems from the deterioration could include a structural collapse of the spillway or overtopping of the reservoir at the dam, state park or spillway walls.

“That means a lot to the Bureau of Reclamation, because it is our facility,” Talbot said. “We’re responsible for anything that happens to it, especially if it fails and wipes out people’s property, or even kills people, and that is a possibility. It runs down the Little Bear River and there’s three bridges within the first couple of miles.”

Small modifications were made in 2004 to a section of the spillway, but now a project that is expected to cost more than $20 million is in its early stages. The final design won’t be chosen until July 2016 and the project won’t be finished until at least late 2020, but important decisions will be made in the coming months.

As of right now, the Bureau of Reclamation is considering three different options for the new spillway. One would be rebuilding the it where it stands, the other two each include building a new one. If either new spillway option was built, it would be shorter in length, use less concrete and would be less expensive, but it would also force the acquisition of private property to construct. Several of the property owners were in attendance and expressed concerns with losing land. Talbot said all concerns will be taken into consideration by the Bureau and that his group will do its best to give water users the best product for the best price.

“We’ve thrown all these options around, literally, for months and months, and even years,” he said.

Tablot said a decision on what option will be made sometime around February 2016. Those with concerns will be given the opportunity to express them before a final choice is made.

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