At the City of Claremore, we regularly complete projects without much fanfare to improve infrastructure and ensure we offer residents a quality product. For example, over the past six years, our engineering team has diligently worked on updating the Claremore Lake Dam, originally built in the 1930s as a source of drinking water. Since then, the dam has remained relatively untouched, except for new spillway construction in the 1960s and minor maintenance and vegetation removal in the 1980s.
A 2017 inspection revealed numerous deficiencies that needed to be addressed to ensure the dam’s safety, including vegetation overgrowth, impacts from erosion, and partially operational intake valves. Our team’s first priority was to remove vegetation on the earth dam downstream of the spillway. Roots from even small trees can cause severe issues for dam structures. We also implemented a mowing schedule and planted turf grasses to prevent future erosion and damage.
The next major milestone was to inspect and repair the underwater facilities. During the assessment, multiple deficiencies were found on the dam’s intake structures, the part that pulls water into the treatment plant. Repairs began in 2019, after a year of inspections and planning. The project included adding screens to the updated intake valves, cleaning and removing silt, and adding additional valves to the drawdown line.
After that project’s completion in 2020, the focus moved to repairing the concrete spillway and replacing the earth dam’s riprap, or the materials used to protect shoreline structures. Years of erosion had significantly deteriorated the dam’s retaining walls and spillway apron. The area was also overgrown with brush. Additional repairs were needed near the water treatment plant due to damage caused by the 2019 floods.
The City was able to save a significant cost by completing the spillway repairs in-house. This was no small task and involved substantial rock excavation, steel reinforcement and concrete pumping. The channel downstream was also cleaned to redirect water and protect the abutments.
At the beginning of this year, work began to replace riprap on the earth dam. This project was incredibly labor intensive and was once again completed in-house by our incredible team.
Additional improvements include installing gates to control access to the dam and enhancements to the Oologah pump station. This system is part of the raw water delivery system for Claremore Lake.
We are beginning the final major dam repair project, recoating the concrete spillway. This project was awarded earlier this month and will start in Spring 2023. Weather plays a critical factor in scheduling and executing work on projects such as this, as we have to take advantage of the dry conditions.
Upon its completion, we will have invested approximately $2 to $2.5 million in renovations to the Claremore Lake Dam. Due to the incredible work of our in-house team, led by City Engineer Garrett Ball, we have saved roughly $2 million by not contracting the repairs out in one large project.
As we look to the future, planning has started to replace and relocate the lake’s raw water intake. The current system is nearly 100 years old and becoming functionally obsolete, ultimately limiting the water treatment plant. We are also looking to address future raw water demands with potential upgrades to the Oologah conveyance.
It is hard to remember where we started at the Claremore Lake Dam today. It has been remarkable to witness a project which began with basic vegetation removal transform throughout the years to completion. Today, the dam is safer, more eye-appealing, and has increased functionality. It is one of our community’s most precious resources, and many are unaware of its importance.
I want to thank Garrett and our Engineering and Public Infrastructure teams for their incredible work on this and so many other projects. Their work is essential to keeping our community safe and operational.
Until next time, Claremore!
All my best,
John W. Feary