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Archive for Thursday, April 18, 2002

Cement injection proposed to protect Tuttle Creek dam from earthquakes

April 18, 2002

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— The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a $195 million plan to inject cement into the dirt underneath the Tuttle Creek dam to make it better able to withstand a high-magnitude earthquake.

The dam near Manhattan is just 12 miles from the Humboldt fault, which produces major quakes once every 2,000 years. And the corps has become concerned that a quake could destroy the dam and flood much of Manhattan, endangering 14,000 people and 6,800 homes.

Details of the plan will be presented May 2, and a final decision is expected in October.

If approved, construction could begin in the fall of 2004 and take seven to 10 years.

The corps has considered everything from doing nothing, to drawing down the lake permanently to removing the dam.

Boaters and residents had raised concerns about options for stabilizing the dam that would have required that the lake be lowered. But the corps now says it will be able to repair the dam without draining part of the lake.

The city of Manhattan, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and the owner of Big Dawg Marina at the lake praised the corps for listening to the public.

"On the surface, this looks like the best solution as far as the community is concerned," said Lyle Butler, chamber president.

Officials don't know what effect the construction will have on the Tuttle Creek State Park, which is the fourth-most popular park in Kansas and consistently makes money for the state.

The corps began studying Tuttle Creek and other dams built on sand foundations after the San Fernando Valley dam in California nearly collapsed during a quake in the 1970s. The corps later learned the dam's sand foundation had liquefied, turning to quicksand.

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