Safety of dams department


Weber Reservoir Weber Dam is a small earthen dam that was built during l933 through 1935, on the Walker River Paiute Indian Reservation which impounds waters of the Walker River, a stream which originates in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and terminates at Walker Lake. The Dam is operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to provide irrigation water to the Reservation.

The BIA, under the Dam Safety Maintenance and Repair Program, conducted a safety analysis which resulted in the dam being given a “high hazard” rating and a poor overall safety rating. The Weber Dam has been ranked number one since l989 on the BIA’s list of High Hazard Dams. This ranking means that the Dam is the most unsafe BIA dam in operation. The hazard rating means that more than six lives could be lost should the dam fail. The over all risk of overtopping by floods and structural failure during an earthquake is relatively high. The principal problems to be corrected are unsatisfactory static stability, potentially liquefiable materials in the lower portion of the embankment, and unsatisfactory properties with respect to seepage and rapid drawdown of reservoir.

As a result of the High Hazard designation, the BIA initiated an Interim Operating Criteria (IOC), for the past 5 years, which has restricted the amount of water that could be stored in the reservoir. The IOC has crippled the economic base of the community which is the growth of alfalfa and other crops.

The Walker River Paiute Tribe contracted from the BIA Safety of Dams Program, through the 93-638 process, for the rehabilitation and modification of the dam to correct the deficiencies. The Bureau of Reclamation developed the corrective design and developed the engineering drawings and specifications.

After three unsuccessful attempts at bidding, the Tribe negotiated a contract with Barnard of Nevada, Inc. and awarded the contract to repair a portion of Weber Dam, on January 11, 2007 in the amount of $14.3 Million Dollars. Barnard of Nevada, Inc. began work on the dam in February 2007. This portion of the project is scheduled to be completed by September 30, 2007. As a result of the project the restrictions imposed by the Bureau of Indian affairs to store needed irrigation water can be eliminated and the Tribe can store water to capacity for irrigation by the local farmers.

There were a number of items which were not included in the contract with Barnard of Nevada, Inc. the items which were eliminated from the original scope of work. Those included: the wetland planting, replacement of the radial gates in the spillway, the slide gates in the outlet works gate house, and the construction of the fish passage. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has committed to funding these remaining items throughout the years of 2008, 2009, and 2010.

The fish passage is an essential item which needs to be completed. The fish passage construction is a requirement of the Environmental Impact Statement and should not be ignored for an extended length of time due to the sensitivity of the issue relating to the Endangered Lahonton Cut-throat Trout (LCT). The Tribe contracted with HDR/Fish Pro to complete the fish passage design. Upon receipt of funding from BIA the Tribe will secure a contract to construct the fish passage. The fish passage construction is planned for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

Please feel free to contact:

The "Projects Office" Safety of Dams; Roads; and Tribal Construction Projects
1125 Cottonwood Drive
Schurz, NV. 89427
Office: (775) 773-2000
Fax: (775) 773-2319

Jonathan Hicks
Roads Project Manager
P.O. Box 220
Schurz, NV. 89427

Vicki Moyle
Safety of Dams - Contracting Officer Representative
P.O. Box 190
Schurz, NV. 89427

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