Lake Peachtree dam repair to cost more, take longer

Smaller ’08 F’ville dam repair costs exceeded $727K

The dam that holds back the water in Lake Peachtree has been newly classified as a “Category 1” dam by state regulators, and that will likely cause a further delay in refilling the lake.

If a smaller Fayetteville dam upgrade begun in 2008 provides any indicators, the Lake Peachtree project may cost more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

City officials noted that the new designation “may result in more stringent construction standards for the dam and spillway, with a corresponding higher cost to make the repairs necessary to refill the lake.”

Previously the dam was classified as a Category 2 dam, but the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has determined that homes about half a mile downstream would be “inundated” with water if the Lake Peachtree dam were ever to fail.

The county, assisted by consultant Golder Associates, is undertaking a dam breach analysis, which may show different results than EPD evaluated, according to Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch.

“Obviously, the safety of those downstream will be the first priority,” Fleisch said. “But if the modeling shows significantly different results than the findings of the EPD, an appeal may be our best option to ensure the correct level of repairs are made.”

The county has 30 days to appeal the Category 1 classification.

The city actually owns the lake but the county has the burden of maintaining the spillway and dam under an agreement dating back to the 1960s that allows the county to use the lake as a reservoir for raw drinking water.

In the meantime, EPD has approved the use of Lake McIntosh later this year for the annual Dragon Boat races and also a new outdoor fitness challenge called “Get Stoked,” city officials said.

The lake was lowered in February to allow dock and shoreline maintenance, but several months later structural problems with the spillway were discovered. A high-definition video from a camera snaked underground showed a rather large cavern underneath the spillway, most likely caused by erosion over the years.

For comparison, the Fayetteville project cost a minimum of $727,466 in 2008. Pye Lake, much smaller than Lake Peachtree, had a 40-year old dam whose problems became apparent after some flooding damaged nearby homes.

Georgia reclassified the Pye Lake dam off Hood Avenue as a Category 1, meaning that its failure had the potential to endanger at least one life.

A Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided 80 percent of the reconstruction cost with local stormwater management fees accounting for the remaining 20 percent of the Pye Lake project.

The rebuilt Pye Lake dam and spillway can be seen by passing traffic on Hood Avenue just west of Fayetteville Elementary School.