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Dam Problem

Early in my professional career I was told by a mentor of mine, ‘bad news does not age well’. It is with that thought that I share bad news.

Yesterday, I was notified by the engineer who semi-annually inspects our dams required by Kansas laws that we may be getting a call from Division of Water Resources and the Kansas Water Office about the Main Lake Dam at Sugar Valley.

If you have been following the news stations in Kansas City, they have been reporting on a watershed lake near Sabetha in Nemaha County, Kansas that is failing and may soon collapse.

Below is a link to the story about the situation.

The reason I am writing to you is that the Sugar Valley Main Lake and the Sabetha Lake, I am told, have the same problem. The overflow pipe that is embedded in the dam is over 50 years old and parts of it are beginning to corrode and fail. This means that all water does not flow through the pipe, rather it flows around the pipe and carries away dam soil until enough soil is moved that it causes the entire dam to fail.

We have already been planning to have a more specialized inspection of the Sugar Valley Main Dam this summer by a firm from Oklahoma who specializes in analyzing this type of dam problem and recommending corrective action. Our engineer was targeting an inspection date after the spring and early summer rains subsides and after the Lake is below overflow levels. But, we may not have the luxury of addressing the issue on our timeline. It may be that the State of Kansas will impose a deadline upon us.

I am told that it may cost in the range of $100K to fix the problem. And, that is only part of the problem. We are told the lake will likely have to be partially or fully drained to do the repairs or replacement of the current pipe.

I will keep the Board and the Association members abreast of issues related to this situation.

Richard C. Morrell

Association Manager

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