Study: Lewisville Lake dam is 'very high risk'

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on September 2, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 2 at 10:22 PM

Lewisville Lake dam

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LEWISVILLE LAKE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling the Lewisville Lake dam a "very high risk."

The alarming assessment is based on several factors —  including the dam's age and the catastrophic consequences downstream if it ever failed. The Corps says lives could be lost in addition to the economic and environmental impact.

That’s troubling for communities south of the dam, including Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Dallas.

Donnie Russell's pride and joy is his 1953 Chevy pickup. It was built the year before the Lewisville Lake dam opened.

Like the old truck, the old dam is still operating as designed. “I never really worried about it," said Russell.

But other homeowners are worried about the dam. Steve Glassinger calls the Corps' report “unsettling.”

The "very high risk" label is based, in part, by the downstream consequences of a breach, including lives lost and economic and environmental impacts.

“Those aren't just some slight consequences. Things like 'lives lost'  to top off the list is pretty scary,” Glassinger said.

Army Corps officials stress the dam is not in imminent danger of failing.

“With any dam, if you did have a failure and you released the pool that was behind the dam, you would have severe flooding along the channel downstream of that dam,” said Brian Phelps, who manages the lake for the Corps of Engineers.

There are no plans to lower the lake level to prevent problems.

Donnie Russell says even though his house is one of the closest to the dam, it is not in harm's way.

“I believe it would miss me cause I'm up on a little hill here," he said. "But Carrollton, Farmers Branch and downtown Dallas would probably flood."

The Army Corps will continue to take a closer look at the dam. Its recommendations are expected sometime next year.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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