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$1.8 million Lake Knickerbocker dam work awaits federal approval
A project to stabilize the earthen dam of Lake Knickerbocker is awaiting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval.

A long-awaited project to stabilize the earthen dam at Lake Knickerbocker could begin in three to four months, an official with the Gainesville Department of Water Resources said.

Holding up the project is a review of proposed upgrades at the site by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the property, according to Myron Bennett, manager of the engineering and construction division for city water resources.

Bennett said the city cannot move forward on the project until the Corps of Engineers grants permission because the dam is on Corps property.

“We hope to receive their approval in the near future and then move forward with the bidding phase of the project,” Bennett told The Times.

The dam was built in the 1950s and spans East Lake Drive. Residents in the area fear that the dam, which separates Knickerbocker from Lake Lanier, is unstable and poses a threat. Residents have been pleading with the city for more than three years to improve the integrity of the dam.

A spokeswoman for the Corps of Engineers at the Mobile, Ala., district office said the city submitted plans in January related to the upgrades at the Knickerbocker dam.

“We do not have a timeline for completing the review,” the Corps’ Lisa Hunter told The Times. “If any permits will be required, the type (of permits) has not been determined yet.”

Bennett said the city has set aside approximately $1.8 million that’s been included in the most recent capital improvements budget at the Department of Water Resources, which maintains water and sewer lines in the dam. Bennett said the department has to protect those assets.

The project will address maintenance items related to the dam, including the removal of trees, protecting upstream and downstream slopes of the dam with rip rap after trees have been removed, and installation of a bar screen at the existing spillway to prevent trees and other floating debris from blocking the spillway, according to Bennett.

“We will also perform repairs on the existing drain pipe,” he said.

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