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Dam in need of repair

Westville leak no cause for concern — yet

No, they’re not drilling for oil. John LeMay and John Galvin of GeoLogic Earth Exploration Inc. probe Westville Dam Wednesday to gauge the extent of its internal leaks as part of the process of fixing them. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
January 06, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Westville Dam is leaking.

But both town officials and Army Corps engineers note the situation isn't serious yet.

"The dam is not going to fail tomorrow," said Erik Matthews, the Army Corps project manager coordinating the repair project. "Dams leak; that's normal. But if they have too much or uncontrolled seepage, that's when you have a problem."

Back in September, routine maintenance testing found that the dam "has significant foundation and abutment seepage issues," a Corps' statement revealed in November. "Subsurface explorations conducted at Westville Dam last year encountered previously unexplored pervious [water-permeable] foundation materials and highly fractured bedrock."

Matthews said those discoveries made Westville "one of the highest priority" dams for repairs nationwide, in large part because it's one of six providing flood control for most of the Quinebaug-Thames River basin well into Connecticut. Currently, the Corps has funds to do temporary repairs while studying what the long-term fix will be, and he said the latter work will probably be done in late 2011 or early 2012.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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