Letter writer: $25 million project aims to improve Asheville’s water supply dam

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Editor’s note: A letter to the editor submitted last week questioned the amount of money being spent on studying the city of Asheville’s water system. Although the letter writer withdrew the letter before publication, the following response from the city’s Water Resources Department seemed worthy of sharing with readers.

I can see how your reader interpreted the 2014 Water Quality report to suggest that Schnabel Engineering is doing a $25 million study. We have engaged Schnabel over the past several years to assess our primary water supply dam and identify improvements that are necessary to bring the dam into compliance with N.C. Dam Safety regulations. That preliminary investigation is complete.

Schnabel will be overseeing some construction required by the state, but the majority of their remaining work is the engineering design of a new spillway to handle significant storms as required by the state. Last year, the city of Asheville Water Resources advertised for and accepted proposals for the engineering design and oversight of improvements to the primary water supply dam. Schnabel Engineering was selected for the spillway modification project.

The $25 million includes the engineering design, geotechnical investigations, permitting, and revised emergency action plans and inundation mapping. The $25 million estimate also included the bidding and construction of the new spillway. Schnabel will be providing construction oversight and contract administration for that phase.

Therefore, the $25 million estimate includes both the engineering and construction required to bring our dam into compliance with existing regulations. Not all of that money will be going to Schnabel Engineering.

Phase II (construction of the spillway) will go out for bid after the design is complete.

— Stephen Shoaf
Director of Water Resources
City of Asheville

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