Darling Dam Inspection - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Darling Dam Inspection

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The dam that serves as the last chance to control the Mouse River before the river hits Minot and points downstream recently had a major inspection.

Lake Darling Dam is just upstream of Minot and has taken a lot of abuse in the form of high water flows in the past three years.

Jim Olson reports on the latest in-depth inspection of the dam.

In 2011, the Mouse River roared through Lake Darling Dam's gates at a record rate - more than five times the previous peak flow the dam had experienced.

Then, two years later, Lake Darling Dam was again called on to hold back a lot of water from a record snowpack upstream.

And now, the agencies operating the dam have had the structure checked out.

(Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge) "A very intensive inspection of the dam, the water control structure itself."

That intensive inspection turned up a few minor problems, such as concrete that needed patching and some electrical issues, but the man who has watched this structure closely since the day it was installed 20 years ago, says it came through the inspection very well.

(Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge) "It's in very good shape given the events of 2013 and then this past spring with the vast amount of water we've had to move through this structure. It's held up remarkably well."

Duane Anderson says the earthen dam that stretches across the valley to create Lake Darling was built in the 1930s. Then, in the 1990s, it was updated to become a part of a new flood control system for the river.

(Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge) "The embankment was beefed up, there was a lot more material put on the embankment, a new toe drain was installed and the new structure right behind us that helps control all the water."

And in 2011, the structure controlled a record amount of water. That was followed by a thorough inspection in that year, and then this year's inspection - a fine tooth comb look at the dam that normally happens every five years. And this year, there was particular attention paid to what's called the "toe drain." That's a 12 inch pipe buried along the length of the embankment that empties here - Anderson says he always wants to see water trickling from that pipe because it means the toe drain system is doing its job to relieve pressure on the earthen dam.

(Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge) "There is some sediment buildup in there, some corrosion, but generally the toe drain system is doing what it needs to do to protect the integrity of the dam."

Anderson says he had little doubt to dam would pass this latest inspection - he's checking the dam out pretty much all the time.

(Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge) "We've been on the structure almost daily making adjustments as far as gate releases, water releases, so we spend a lot of time keeping our eye on this structure."

Watching a structure that's the last stop for water flowing toward thousands of people along the Mouse River. At Lake Darling Dam, Jim Olson, KX News.

Lake Darling Dam will be getting an even-closer inspection next summer when the gates on the structure are removed and checked out.

That will require the road across the dam to be closed down for a few days in 2014.

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