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NC regulators wary of dam at Fuquay lake failing

Posted February 26, 2014

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— The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is siphoning water from a private lake in Fuquay-Varina where portions of an earthen dam are at risk of failure, officials said Wednesday.

The water was siphoned from the lake and directed into a nearby creek, and as of late afternoon, the level of the lake behind the privately-owned Sherman Lakes Lower Dam had been lowered enough so that water was no longer flowing through the emergency spillway, officials said.

The 17-foot dam is considered a high hazard dam because it is about 100 yards from U.S. Highway 401.

During a routine inspection in January, DENR identified severe erosion in the emergency spillway that was threatening the dam’s stability. After a follow-up inspection, staff in the state Dam Safety Program ordered the dam’s owners to immediately lower the reservoir and gave them 91 days to hire a professional engineer to develop plans for repairing or breaching the dam.

The dam's owners hadn't responded to the order as of Tuesday, when dam safety officials returned to the site for another follow-up inspection and found that erosion into the spillway had increased.

“Things were progressing uncomfortably to the point where we decided we needed to lower the reservoir as soon as possible,” Steve McEvoy, director of the Dam Safety Program, said in a statement. “So, we returned to the site today to lower the reservoir to reduce the threat of a dam failure.”

The siphoning will continue Thursday to lower the lake level until repairs can begin, McEvoy said.

An engineer for the dam’s owners sent an email to state officials Tuesday indicating that he intends to send plans to repair the dam within a week, officials said.

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