JOHNSTOWN — The city of Johnstown is looking for a contractor to replace the valves at the Cork Center Reservoir Dam as part of an ongoing rehabilitation project that must be completed to ensure public safety.
The Common Council voted unanimously Monday evening to accept bids and open them Oct. 5 for phase two work on the dam.
While the Water Board approved moving forward on the project at its August meeting, it currently holds no legal authority to have the work done since it handed over control of the water system to the city for four months in July.
“We’ve got to move forward with these projects,” said Mayor Amy Praught Tuesday. “It’s imperative we get these projects done.”
The reservoir feeds the main filtration center for the city and is tagged unsound by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which prevents the city from having downstream flood insurance, said city engineer Chris Vose. On top of that, there is also a large public safety concern in that if the dam isn’t repaired it could flood properties.
Originally, the plan in 2015 called for just rehabbing the spillway of the dam, but, because the work had remained undone for several years, the whole spillway must now be replaced — for $3 million more — due to excessive erosion.
“The biggest risk that this dam causes right now, if it continues to be allowed to deteriorate, is it’s a loss of life dam,” Vose said. “So, you’re more afraid of dam failure; that [it’s] going to cause a significant rush of water downstream. It’s going to do damage to personal property.”
Phase two of the project will be to replace the control valves, which haven’t worked in the last few years, Vose said. Once that happens, then the spillway can be replaced and other repairs can be made to prevent erosion in the future.
Phase two estimates done a year and half ago have the valve replacement costs at $600,000 and the spillway at $4.5 million.
“Material prices have gone up, so we kind of anticipate those to come in a little bit higher but those were the last real solid engineering estimates,” Vose said.
He said the hope is to begin the valve work in 2023 and then the spillway work in 2024.
Vose said when work on the spillway begins he doesn’t anticipate any issues to residents’ water access.