October 9, 2003

Alderman Questions City’s Water Intake Repair Plans

Concerns about an engineering design to stabilize the city’s damaged water intake at Lake Show-Me had the Memphis City Council debating its options at the October 2 meeting.

Alderman Lucas Remley questioned the approved proposal from All-States Engineering to install a rock jetty around the damaged structure to help hold it in place and prevent further damage.

City crews currently are working to reclaim blocks of concrete from the demolished swimming pool to use in the jetty and save on the cost of purchasing the estimated 1,500 tons of rock needed for the project.

The design calls for the construction of a jetty of approximately 125 feet in length. Water superintendent Dennis Howard stated that four earthen anchors will be placed in the dam to also help secure the intake valve that was damaged two years ago by heavy ice flow on the lake.

“Basically the plan is meant to insure that ice will not move the intake anymore,” Howard said. “We’ve been watching it for two years now and it hasn’t moved but we need to be sure until we can come up with funding for a more permanent fix.”

Howard stated likely the best option is to replace the intake with a new floating intake system but that costs half a million dollars. The rock jetty is expected to only set the city back about $60,000.

“This is simply the quickest, cheapest way to do it and will mean the least amount of maintenance for the city while we try to secure a grant or other source of revenue to pay to fix it completely,” Howard said.

Remley argued that the jetty idea was not sound. He questioned how sturdy a pile of rocks is, and will be under the water and ice. He also pointed out the idea is to keep the intake stationary so it does not move any further and break but asked what happens if and when the rocks shift or move which he said he felt was likely to occur.

“That is why we have a city engineer,” Mayor Ron Alexander stated. “He provided us with a number of options to consider. This is simply the most cost effective option right now.”

“With the checkbook we have right now it’s really about the only option we have,” stated Alderman Ronnie Gardner.

Remley suggested seeking further engineering options and volunteered to seek more information on possibly building a steel girder or I-beam formation to hold the intake in place more securely. He offered to get price quotes on such a plan in hopes it could ultimately be cheaper as well as more structurally sound.

“I just hate to see all this work done and all the money spent, even though it is the cheapest option the engineer offered, and not have it work in the end,” Remley said.

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