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Ellis County Gets Dam Repairs Started from Recovery Act Funding

story by Randy Henry

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is using Recovery Act funding for repairs to five flood control dams in Ellis County utilizing $5.78 million within the Sub-Watersheds of the Trinity River.

Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 will result in repairs to Chambers Creek dams Nos. 75B, 111/112, 108, 109 and Richland Creek dam No. 44. To date, repairs have begun on dams No. 75B and No. 44. Together, these five dams will provide about $902,300 in annual benefits to downstream properties in the county.

"We were recently reminded of the importance of Chambers Creek No. 75B, and the other four dam sites scheduled for repair when the Ellis County area received 12-15 inches of rain over a three-day period," said Monty Gearner, NRCS district conservationist in Ellis County.

These needed repairs are from slope slides on the flood control dams, along with wave erosion damage that occurred during periods of heavy rainfall following extended drought. In turn, soil will be removed, treated with lime, and replaced to stabilize the slopes; therefore, all the repairs will ensure the dams are safe, providing benefits for years to come.

"The dams are located on major tributaries, such as Chambers Creek No. 75B near South Fork Chambers Creek, and thus provides significant protection for farms, communities, and public roads downstream in western Ellis County," Gearner said.

Besides NRCS, sponsors for the dams include the Ellis County Commissioner's Court and Ellis-Prairie Soil and Water Conservation District.

Flood control dams within the Trinity River Watershed are a part of nearly 2,000 dams constructed in Texas by NRCS and local sponsors. These dams continue to provide nearly $120 million of annual benefits protecting downstream properties, infrastructure, and countless lives across the entire state.

Moreover, project repairs will maintain the integrity and function of the dams. Benefits include downstream protection of farms, communities, and bridges from flooding, reduced sedimentation into lakes and other waterways, and enhancement of riparian area wildlife habitat.

Dam repairs funded through ARRA are part of the Obama Administration's plans to modernize the nation's infrastructure, jump-start the economy, and create jobs.

NRCS is using Recovery Act dollars to update aging flood control dams, protect and maintain water supplies, improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands. Plus, NRCS acquires easements and restores floodplains to safeguard lives and property in areas along streams and rivers that have experience flooding.

The dam repairs in the Sub-watersheds of the Trinity River will create or save jobs through industries supplying or supporting construction activities, along with the sale of goods and services. In addition to the jobs created, this program will increase the demand for construction supplies and equipment, adding approximately $12.77 million to local economies.

Chambers Creek 75B Front Slope Slide Chambers Creek 75B Back Slope Slide
Slope slides like this on the front slope of the dam at Chambers Creek No. 75B are being repaired by removing the soil, treating with lime, and replacing to stabilize the slopes. Soils like these on the back slope of Chambers Creek dam No. 75B have slid down the dam as a result of periods of heavy rainfall following extended drought. So, repairing the dam will ensure they are safe, providing benefits for years to come.