Archive for Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Repairs to add 50 years to dam

July 8, 2009


Repair plans for Bowersock moving forward

City commissioners are moving forward with plans to repair the Bowersock dam. Repairs could begin as early as August. Enlarge video

It’s been labeled a 50-year fix.

City commissioners Tuesday evening unanimously supported a plan to begin repairing the northern half of the Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River.

“I think this step here is to help assure us and everybody in the community that ample supplies of fresh drinking water are always going to be there,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said.

City staff members have devised a plan to begin repairs hopefully sometime after mid-August. The project will cost anywhere from $2 million to $2.5 million.

The project would allow a construction crew to create a temporary cofferdam with rocks west of the dam. That would lower the water level and allow workers to add steel sheet piles and concrete to fill holes on the dam.

City and state officials have voiced concerns about rotting of the upstream portion of the dam, made of timber and built in the 1870s.

If the dam were to fail, it would compromise the two Kansas River bridges near downtown. It would also be difficult for the nearby Kaw Water Treatment Plant to operate, forcing the city to rely solely on the Clinton Lake treatment plant, which would be difficult during peak water use times, city staff members said.

Commissioners have also touted the dam’s proximity to the adjacent Bowersock Mills and Power Co., which actually owns the dam. The city is responsible for maintenance costs because of a 1977 agreement.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to expand hydroelectric power in this community,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said.

Commissioners agreed to waive the project’s formal bidding process mainly because Hamm Construction and United Construction companies are currently working just miles upstream on the Kansas Turnpike Authority’s bridge overhaul.

But city staff members say they will keep their options open, which could include expanding repairs to the southern end of the Bowersock Dam as well. Commissioners will likely get a maintenance contract to consider later this year, and city officials said they would likely seek additional project funding from state, federal and private sources.

In other business, commissioners:

l Set an Aug. 4 public hearing date on a proposal to amend a special-use permit for the Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th St., to expand its overnight sleeping capacity to 73 people. The extra capacity is needed after The Salvation Army recently closed its overnight shelter.

l Approved adding bike lanes along West Ninth Street from Tennessee to Indiana streets, which would take away street parking spaces.

l Deferred a decision until Tuesday on establishing a school zone on George Williams Way adjacent to Langston Hughes School, 1101 George Williams Way.


50YearResident 8 years, 1 month ago

The land the City Hall is built on just keeps getting more expensive each year! Good drinking water? You have to wonder when you view the sludge floating down the river.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 1 month ago

"Commissioners agreed to waive the project’s formal bidding process mainly because Hamm Construction and United Construction companies are currently working just miles upstream on the Kansas Turnpike Authority’s bridge overhaul."

Does this make sense to anyone? So what if they are doing unrelated work nearby?

sandrat7 8 years, 1 month ago

Whathefk: funny, I like the way you think. OldEnuf- I tried to figure that one out, too.

KansasVoter 8 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see the 1977 agreement. Why should the city pay for repairs if the power company still owns it?

nekansan 8 years, 1 month ago

"I'd like to see the 1977 agreement. Why should the city pay for repairs if the power company still owns it?"

From the Bowersock Power plant Web Site...

"Working together, the Hills and the City of Lawrence came to an agreement whereby the Darling grant of 1872 would be modified to return six acres of the Bowersock land to the city for construction of a City Hall, and an option on the dam power plant and maintenance shop within 50 years. If City Hall was built on the property, the site would cost just $1.00; if not, the site would cost $25,000.00. In return, the city agreed to maintain the Bowersock dam, and granted a new thirty-year lease on the eastern 8 acres of the levee property. "

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

Thirty years is up, time to renegotiate that lease. They probably already renewed it for another 30 years at $1.

KansasVoter 8 years, 1 month ago

nekansan (Anonymous) says… "From the Bowersock Power plant Web Site…"

Thank you.

Tony Kisner 8 years, 1 month ago

Only slightly related, anyone know how the kid that fell into the river is doing? (I am a little afraid to ask.) I hope all is well.

compmd 8 years, 1 month ago

Whathefk (Anonymous) says…

"It seems that engineers can easily figure out the potential damage caused by the failure of a major infrastructure component, public or private, but struggle with how to keep the major infrastructure component from failing? I wonder if it’s only a 25-year fix and double the said cost. Why repair it? Create some more “dam” jobs and just replace the “dam” thing."

Oh, I have an idea! Why don't they make the whole airplane out of the stuff they make the black box from??????

Hm. A random LJW blogger vs. a team of engineers. When it comes down to who likely has a clue about solving this problem, I'm betting on the engineers.

And stop furthering the disposable society.

nekansan 8 years, 1 month ago

"nekansan (Anonymous) says… “From the Bowersock Power plant Web Site…”

Thank you."

I don't get it. The information about the lease and agreement to maintain the dam is 100% accurate, the source of the info is not the problem it's just the first place I could find it in print. The debate seems to revolve around the decision by the city to enter an agreement to maintain the dam. I get that it might not have been a wise move by the city, but that is not the question now. Get pissed at the council from 1977 or whatever. Bottom line is they did agree to maintain the thing and it has some pretty serious issues. Now, as Auntie said, they would be foolish to not maintain the dam to prevent it's collapse. If that happened, the damage would likely be substantial and the city would also be on the hook to not only repair the damage, but rebuild the dam.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.