OUR BLOG: INSIDE THE LIFT

27Dec 2014

URETEK Repairs Ohio’s Leaking Lake White Dam

By Susan Albershardt

Nothing can ruin a day of boating on Lake White in Waverly, Ohio, more than being told it is closed to boating until further notice. And when it’s Labor Day, it can ruin everyone’s holiday plans for spending a lazy summer day on your favorite lake.

Lake White Dam was built in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The dam contains the 337-acre Lake White that is used for swimming, water skiing, fishing and boating. When the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) discovered a leak in the center of the dam, they immediately set out to figure out what was causing it. In order to find the source of the leak, they began to gradually dewater the lake above the dam by, what turned out to be, approximately 15 feet.

In an abundance of caution, ODNR detoured motorists from Route 104 that travels over the dam and told boat owners to remove their boats from the lake.  They closed the lake to all recreational activity until further notice.

Lowering the water level in Lake White
Lowering the water level in Lake White

After the water was removed from the lake, Hung Thai, the Chief Engineer for ODNR, and Robert J. Kirkbride, a Senior Project Engineer at the Stantec engineering firm, set to work to figure out where the leak was coming from. They soon located where eroded soil had allowed water to create a natural channel in the center of the dam, where it shouldn’t. Since further degradation could cause significant structural problems to the dam, Stantec made an emergency call to URETEK Holdings.

Shortly after getting the call, URETEK’s Project Manager, Joe Kindler, conducted a site visit and submitted a proposal to Stantec. The proposal called for URETEK to complete an emergency repair using its Deep Injection® process of high-density polyurethane at the center of the dam and at the downstream spillway, filling the voids the escaping water had created and stopping further water movement in these areas.

URETEK working above the dewatered dam
URETEK working above the dewatered dam

After URETEK’s injections were complete, Stantec built a temporary retention basin above the dam and filled it with a colored dye in order to test that the leaks had been stopped.  It took approximately eight minutes for the dyed water to make its way through the dam and exit through the spillways. When none of the dyed water exited where it shouldn’t, the engineers were satisfied that the leaks had been repaired.

The retention basin with blue dye.
The retention basin with blue dye.

URETEK was able to complete repairs in one day and successfully stabilize the soil and seal the dam, allowing ODNR to open Route 104 and refill Lake White to its normal winter water level.  Now that the seepage has stopped, the engineers can better evaluate the cause and determine a permanent repair for the dam.