Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Rotting Lake Lucille Dam ‘Barely Hanging On,’ Engineer Says
There is no doubt that the dam is in disrepair, but just who will foot the bill is debatable.
An aging dam is at the center of a controversy in Wasilla. The dam is located on the west end of Lake Lucille. It was built back in 1967 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. At the time the state was interested in raising the water level so they could stock the lake with fish. Now the dam is failing and Fish and Game says they no longer think it’s necessary.
“Our long-term plan is to breach the dam and remove it,” says Fish and Game’s James Hasbrouck. “But we realize that is going to have an impact on others, so we are asking others what they desire for a long-term solution.”
Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright has made it clear what he would like to see—a new dam paid for by Fish and Game. Rupright says that abandoning the dam would cause water levels in the lake to fall at least two feet and that would leave some property owners with their docks sitting in the mud.
“I don’t think these homeowners would want a lot of their water washing out so they find themselves in mud,” says Rupright. “What about their boats and floatplanes? How far would they have to extend their docks to get out to deeper water?”
Another concern is that a failing dam would rush water down into Lucille Creek and cause flooding problems farther down stream. Fish and Game has built a rock wall to try and mitigate the flow. They hope that will keep mud and other debris from reaching the creek if the dam were to fail, as well as stopping the flow rate by about 50 percent.
In the meantime there is still no agreement on whether a new dam will go in or who will pay for it. Rupright says the city of Wasilla might be interested in maintaining the dam if the state would pay to put it in. However, the old dam could fail at any time.