Home Emergency Management News Upgrades to Begin This Spring on Depression-Era Bagnell Dam

Upgrades to Begin This Spring on Depression-Era Bagnell Dam


By Kimberly Arsenault
Contributor, EDM Digest

In a recent announcement, Ameren Missouri, owner of the Bagnell Dam which holds back Lake of the Ozarks, stated that the dam will receive $52 million in upgrades beginning this spring. Part of the upgrades will include the addition of 68 new anchors that help hold the dam to bedrock.

The company is set to begin the upgrades in March of 2017 and estimates the construction will take approximately 18 months to complete. In an effort to avoid disrupting lake residents, the director of hydro operations, Warren Witt noted that construction will only occur Monday through Friday.

In addition to the anchors, a concrete overlay will be added downstream to replace areas on the eastern and western sections where the concrete is cracked and worn. A total of 66 million pounds of concrete, in conjunction with the additional anchors to assist in pulling the dam down towards the bedrock, is crucial to the overall structural integrity of the dam. These upgrades will help offset the impact of 100 feet of water and its powerful pressure and force against the structure.

Built During the Great Depression

The Begnall Dam was built during the depression-era and began operation in 1931. Since then, although yearly inspections occur, the last upgrades were completed in the 1980s when 277 anchors were installed to strengthen the overall structure. The Begnall hydro-electric dam produces enough electricity to power 42,000 homes each year. It is the only dam that Ameren Missouri owns.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) notes that majority of dams across the nation are in desperate need of infrastructure repairs. The ASCE 2013 report card gave dams a D score, indicating that $21 billion is needed to repair, improve, and upgrade just the high-hazard dams across the country.  With the average age of dams in the nation sitting at 52 years old, and the number of deficient dams increasing, the willingness of Ameren Missouri to invest in its dam will help ensure its continued operation and structural integrity, helping secure the nation and increase national resilience.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.