Meeting to look at safety of Bennington Lake Dam

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WALLA WALLA - The safety status of Bennington Lake Dam will be the subject of a meeting Wednesday at the lake.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host the event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Bennington Lake boat ramp parking lot.

The safety rating for the structure, also known as the Mill Creek Storage Dam, has been upgraded. The action was based on recently completed studies of the dam and risk-reduction measures by the Corps' Walla Walla District Office.

Wednesday's meeting is part of an ongoing nationwide "Dam Safety Action Classification" safety effort by the Corps. The classification has included the two dams at the Mill Creek Project, the diversion dam on Mill Creek and the Bennington Lake Dam.

In 2008, both dams were rated in "urgent and compelling" category for repair. That rating has been raised to "high priority" based on the recent review. The 2008 rating was primarily due to potential seepage and piping issues within the dam's foundation when Bennington Lake is more than 17 percent full for an extended period of time during flood events. The lake is normally kept at 5 to 10 percent full for recreation purposes.

"Public safety is our highest priority, and keeping the public informed of our progress in making our dams safer is an important part of that effort," said Lt. Col. David Caldwell, district commander. "We'd like to share specific details of this improved rating."

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