Branson spillway will prevent catastrophic flooding

Monday, June 23, 2003

BRANSON, Mo. -- A new spillway along Table Rock Lake would cut the damage in half if a disastrous flood breaches the dirt portion of the dam, officials were told during a weekend tour.

"It's not going to prevent flooding ... downstream," said Jon Wedgeworth, acting project resident engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "But it will prevent catastrophic flooding downstream."

Officials, including U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, toured the $72.9 million project Saturday. The three-phase project along Missouri 265 -- slated for completion in July 2004 -- is directly across from the newly relocated and remodeled Moonshine Beach Park.

The need for a new spillway at Table Rock dam surfaced during a Corps Dam Safety Program study. Using updated weather data, engineers discovered the lake would rise much higher during what officials describe a "probable maximum flood," possibly cresting the dirt portion of the dam by as much as five feet, which could wash it out.

In 1993, the corps' Little Rock District launched a study to determine ways to prevent the dam from being topped. A spillway was the favored solution.

"The spillway project provides protection from the devastation of flooding on the White River," said Blunt, who helped secure funding for the project.

The spillway consists of eight gates that, when open, will release water at 450,000 cubic feet per second, Wedgeworth said.

It's a backup measure to Table Rock Dam, completed in 1958, which releases water at a rate of 550,000 cubic feet per second.

Traffic will be rerouted over the spillway in July after crews finish blasting rock where Missouri 265 now sits. Rocks from blasting will be used to create a peninsula that will force the water to stream in one direction.

Officials will test the spillway to ensure it is watertight before conducting a controlled flood.

Other than for routine maintenance, the spillway gates will open only during a catastrophic flood.

Just before the tour, the dignitaries had a groundbreaking for the new Moonshine Beach pavilion project. Officials hope to open the beach to the public on weekends beginning next month.

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