Donner Lake dam work scheduled for summer
Construction crews are scheduled to begin shoring up the aging dam at the outlet of Donner Lake this summer, under orders from the state.
“We’re reinforcing the dam structure to withstand a probable maximum flood event,” said Juan Esparza, principal engineer with the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which operates the Donner dam.
Construction work, which will cut off pedestrian travel over the dam on Donner Creek, is expected to begin on July 5 and end on Aug. 26. Visitors to Donner Memorial State Park will have to walk to one of the bridges east of the dam to access the southern portion of the park during that period, Esparza said.
Visitors to the park following construction will notice little difference in the dam structure. Concrete aprons to strengthen the dam’s abutments and stabilization of the downstream side of the dam will be the two main components of the project, Esparza said. The water authority also want to automate the dam’s gates, which currently are opened and closed manually.
But the dam will look the same and the concrete aprons will be covered with sand and gravel so no exposed concrete will show, said Esparza.
All of this work was ordered by the California Department of Water Resources division of safety of dams, to ensure that the dam can support a flood that would send water over the top of the structure.
Truckee Meadows Water Authority has received approval from almost every agency apart from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which owns the land.
The Truckee Meadows Water Authority has an easement on the property, said Hayden Sohm of the state parks department, and the state agency is only assuring that any historical artifacts found on the property are cared for properly.
“We want to make sure we deal with the archeology appropriately,” Sohm said. “They certainly have the right to do that work in there and we don’t oppose that.”
Construction crews will be doing the work late in the summer when Donner Creek flows are scheduled to be low so the face of the downstream side of the dam will be above water, said Esparza.
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