Repairs being made to Indiana dam

LAWRENCEBURG, IN (FOX19) - An Indiana town watches as a damaged dam gets an overhaul.

The dam that holds back Hidden Valley Lake in Lawrenceburg began showing signs of slippage last week, and forced officials to take action quickly in order to repair it. Hidden Valley has approximately 1,800 homes and 5,300 residents who depend on the road that runs out of the subdivision.

Damage reports have been sent to state officials in both Indiana and Ohio who are keeping a close watch on the progress to repair the dam. However, engineers say there is no immediate danger to the residents of the subdivision.

Bruce Keller, the community manager at Hidden Valley Lake, says an engineer was on sight within 45 minutes of someone noticing that something didn't look right on the hill, and State of Indiana officials were notified within the hour.

"Our dam is considered to be very sound. So whenever we have even the slightest problem it's just prudent for us to go ahead and fix it right away," he said.

Built in 1973, the dam at Hidden Valley Lake holds back more than 2 billion gallons of water when full.

Officials say the record rainfall in the Tri-State caused the slippage in the dam.

"Water probably seeped into a crack that opened up during the summer and saturated the hillside. And the hillside just came down under the weight of the soil and the water," said Peter Soltys, an engineering consultant in charge of inspecting the Hidden Valley Lake Dam for the past 20 years. "Layer by layer they are putting the dam face back."

Most of the homes at Hidden Valley Lake sit above the dam, but a major breech would flood a utility plant that powers the pumps and possibly 15 homes that sit directly below the dam wall. Flooding lake water would travel nearly a mile and reach state line and US 50. Closer to the entrance to Hidden Valley, a bank and a several stores would either be under water or have no way to get to them.

You have to go back to 1997 to find the last slippage at the Hidden Valley Lake dam. That one was much larger and officials back then had the foresight to install a drainage system to keep the rainwater off the face of the dam. Had they not done that back then, along with the tremendous amount of rain we've had this year, it's anyone's guess as to how critical this slippage could have been.

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