BOILING SPRING LAKES — It could be years before Boiling Spring Lakes sees, well, lakes again.
During Hurricane Florence, the city’s dam breached, causing North, Pine and Patricia lakes to flush out to the Cape Fear River. All that’s left are empty lakes that now serve as the city’s center point.
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Breached dam, scheduled for replacement
Just one month before the storm, Boiling Spring Lakes’ Board of Commissioners authorized city manager, Jeff Repp, to approve a construction contract for its dam. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had approved a $1.7 million hazard mitigation grant to replace the city’s 60s-era Stanford Dam this spring.
The grant required Boiling Spring Lakes to c0-finance the $2.3 million project by coming up with $577,500 in its own funds.
On Sept. 15, the city announced the Sanford Dam, budgeted for replacement, had breached at approximately 7:10 p.m. Though the breach caused infrastructure damage, no one was hurt, and no personal property damage occurred, according to Repp. As a requirement for the city’s FEMA grant to replace the dam, Boiling Spring Lakes had already conducted a flood analysis before the storm.
The analysis, and the real-life aftermath of the storm, showed floodwater traveling through 1.5-miles of marshland before reaching the Cape Fear River.
“We knew there was nothing downstream if there was ever a breach,” Repp said.
Sandord dam was capable of holding back 1.6 billion gallons of water, according to Repp. He said at 24 inches of rain, the dam would be pushed to 4.8 billion gallons; Hurricane Florence brought an estimated 34 inches of rain.
Now, that’s all empty. “You’d much rather look at blue water,” Repp said.
With Sanford Dam now breached, and no water for a new dam to hold back, Boiling Spring Lakes has to start over. Fortunately, though, the city won’t have to start from scratch.
Repp said some materials submitted to FEMA for the dam replacement would still apply. The city appears to be eligible for a new project, Repp said.
First, Boiling Spring Lakes must re-apply for a FEMA grant. If approved, an engineering design must be submitted to N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Dam Safety division and the Army Corps of Engineers for review.
After all permits have been approved, the city can put the project out to bid, and finally, construction can begin.
There’s no official timeline for the lengthy process yet. Repp said the city’s consulting engineer could have one ready by next week.
“In my mind, I’m thinking probably two years,” Repp said.
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