Constructing New Canal Dam a Major Undertaking

There are a lot of moving parts to the construction of the Columbia Canal dam: big parts, including massive boulders and sandbags weighing thousands and thousands of pounds.

Theyre picking it up from the quarry, hauling it to the Jarvis Klapman bridge, where they dump thousands of pounds of rock on to the levee below. boulders and crushed, but still massive, rocks are then raked and scattered into place, creating a foundation.

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“We are moving a lot of rock,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

That’s an understatement. They then seal the rocks into place with thousand pound sandbags. It all works to reinforce the levee.

“Armoring and sandbagging has helped to stem deterioration of the breech significantly,” Benjamin said.

Engineers say once they’re comfortable with the reinforcements, they’ll close the gap in the dam, stopping the current flow of water.

“We have been successful to start getting material on the levee that we’ve needed from day one to be able to complete this,” says Joey Jaco, Director of Columbia Utilities and Engineering

Just up stream from the dam construction site is the city water plant, where 35 million gallons of water a day are now being pumped using temporary pumps recently installed.

“That this a huge accomplishment, said Columbia Assistant City Manager Missy Gentry. “We had no doubt that we’d get there, but it certainly more comfortable that we are there.”

Officials say the canal water level is roughly eight feet below normal, out of reach of the plant’s permanent intake valve in this concrete slab just below the temporary pumps. The sooner engineers finish the dam, the sooner water levels are restored, and the plant can start pumping on its own again.


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