Dam project awaits inspectors

Chad Frey
Sand Creek will fill again after a project to replace a dam south of First Street. The dam failed about a year ago, and contractors are awaiting inspectors from the United Kingdom  before moving forward.

Sand Creek has remained pretty dry for nearly a year, the result of leaks in a dam to keep waters up. A project approved last year to repair the dam could move forward at about any time.

A new bladder for the inflatable dam was delivered in June, and now the remaining parts are in.

“The sealant and all the parts and pieces to the dam are all in, Now we are just trying to coordinate the inspector to get here,” said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton. “We are hopeful that Kansas has not become one of their locations they do not want to send people because of COVID cases.”

The bladder manufacturer, United Kingdom-based Dyrhoff, requires a company inspector to be on site during installation for the product warranty to be valid. At one time, the UK restricted travel to the United States. According to the BBC, travelers from the United States to the UK must quarantine for 14 days.

“We will be working that through and will let you know when they will install the dam,” Loomis told the city commission.

Once work begins, it is expected to take about a week.

The dam failed in July 2019. At 40 years old, with a life expectancy of 20 years, city parks staff noticed the rubber bladder on the adjustable inflatable dam appeared to have a problem on the north side. The air inflation equipment was now struggling to keep up, which indicated a significant leak.

In late November the commission awarded a design and build contract to Dondlinger Construction for replacement of the Sand Creek Dam.

The cost of the project is estimated at $400,000, with the capital improvement budget allowing for $600,000. A concrete dam with multiple gates was estimated to cost more than $2 million by engineers working on the project.

Life expectancy of the bladder is 20 to 25 years. The original bladder lasted for 40 years.

This will be a bonded project, with the bond payments made out of the sewer budget.