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Testing continues on Reelfoot spillway

Testing continues on Reelfoot spillway
Staff Reporter
Reelfoot Lake’s new spillway was expected to be fully operational by this past fall; however, the project is still a few months from being put into service, according to Jason Baker with the state Department of Transportation.
“The new structure is substantially complete,” said Baker, the state’s project manager for the new spillway. “We’re in the process of doing some dry testing.”
On Tuesday, he told The Messenger that after the state completes its dry testing of the spillway structure, then wet testing will be performed.
The operational manual for the new spillway is also being developed as a joint project involving the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“Once we get that put together, then we should be able to activate it,” Baker said.
In order to wet test the new spillway, the ridged metal panels blocking the water from the lake side of the spillway will be removed. That will allow water to flow into the spillway lagoon.
It was in June 2009 the state awarded the spillway construction contract to Dement Construction of Jackson. The contract completion date for the new $19,904,421 spillway was Sept. 30, 2012.
The new spillway will replace the aging spillway about 1,000 feet to the east on Highway 21 West.
The old spillway “has outlived its design life, is deteriorating and is no longer adequate to manage the water level of Reelfoot Lake,” according to a TDOT statement. “The existing spillway is considered structurally deficient and the results of the most recent inspection indicate that the current structure has experienced advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling and scour.”
Spalling refers to chipping and splintering of the spillway and scour refers to the erosive force of moving water and the clearing out of a channel. Both forces have impacted the old spillway, which was originally built in 1931.
The new spillway project dates back to 1998 and has undergone several design changes.
Once completed, the new spillway will use a series of gates, flow valves and a large lagoon to control the water level of Reelfoot Lake.
Baker said he expects the spillway to be fully operational by later this spring.
The spillway at Reelfoot Lake is a vital tool used to help manage the water level of the lake.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ Published in The Messenger 1.31.13

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