Strategically Planned and Engineered Construction at Millsite is Advancing on Schedule

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Two dozers are removing just the right amount from the downstream face of the dam. The largest one, a  Komatsu, has a GPS that sets the grade and the other synchronized cat removes the same amount.

By Julie Johansen

The rehabilitation of Millsite Dam is advancing on schedule with dates for every step spelled out precisely. Project manager Ed Vidman and Eric Dixon from the Division of Water Rights explained project plans at a media briefing on the construction site Tuesday.

After years of planning and cooperation, the project will be completed by the end of 2018. Tracy Behling, president of the Ferron Canal and Reservoir Company, praised the support and cooperation of all the entities involved; federal, state, county and city governments, PacifiCorp, Emery Water Conservancy District, Joe’s Valley Project and all water users.

“It is all good, even better than we thought because of the cooperation,” he stated.

Previous flooding, seismic testing and a liquefaction of materials on the face of the dam, along with the loss of water storage space, necessitated the rehabilitation.

The cost of the dam rehabilitation is shared with the federal government supplying 65% and the State Division of Water Rights responsible for 31.5% while local government will have to come up with the remaining amount. This, of course, can be done with in-kind contributions and materials. The project will maximize materials by removing, drying, replacing and compacting much of the sand and gravel. Local entities are also dredging contributory basins in order to keep adequate storage space.

The construction schedule calls for most of the dirt work to be completed this fall so that the foundation and outlet valves can be completed during the winter. The valves must be ready to close before spring to save the runoff water. The water level for the winter months will be five feet lower than normal, but an eventual spillage is still expected. The water now is 19 feet below full and must be drained another 41 feet before Sept. 6. Therefore, water users have been encouraged to use all they can before this date when the rest of the drainage will be turned down the creek.

Of course, culinary water will be available during construction as will water for the power plants and stock water. Actual construction was pushed back one week but fluff work was done during that time so construction remains on schedule.

Irrigation should be normal for the next irrigation season. It has actually been more than average this season as they have had to drop the levels for construction. The spillway will be enlarged and must be done before high water next spring as well.

Construction manager Eric Luke said that the rock removal from the downstream face is more than 60% finished but, upon visual inspection, it was decided it is probably 75% complete. All pending permits for work have been signed and received. He also explained that work will continue all winter with no mid-winter layoffs expected. They are also hiring and looking for new employees who meet specifications for construction work. Equipment to the site has not been fully mobilized but will be arriving and leaving as needed.

CAUTION:  Watch for rock trucks crossing the Canyon Road and please stay out of the construction site even during evening or shut down times. Pay attention to the caution signs, and for all safety issues, stay off the construction site.