Sand Creek project moving forward

Chad Frey
Work to replace a dam that keeps Sand Creek full started this week. The old dam failed in 2019.

Sand Creek could start filling again soon, as a dam that failed more than a year ago will be replaced over the course of the next two weeks.

“it depends on how things come together,” said Erin McDaniel, director of public information for the city of Newton.

Dondlinger Construction began moving dirt and creating a bypass channel at the site on Wednesday. Installation of the new dam will begin next Monday and is expected to take five to 10 days, weather permitting.

Dondlinger will have the construction site blocked off on the west side of Sand Creek.

The rubber bladder took months to be delivered, arriving in Newton in June. The project was approved in November 2019. Sealants and parts followed in July.

Also part of a delay was scheduling an inspector to be at the site during construction. The bladder manufacturer, United Kingdom-based Dyrhoff, requires a company inspector to be on site during installation for the product warranty to be valid.

“The special dam inspector will be here Monday,“ McDaniel said.

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. Final costs for the project will be known when it is complete.

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.