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Work on gates will fix the leak on dam and allow spills

Laser show will have whitewater backdrop again

 

Workers on top of Grand Coulee Dam Tuesday ready equipment and catwalks that will be lowered over the side to form working platforms at the base of the drum gates in need of repair. - Scott Hunter photo

Those who were disappointed in the Laser Light Show last season because the Bureau of Reclamation couldn't spill water as a backdrop for the lasers will be happy to hear that things will be fixed in time for the show this spring.

The bureau has normally allowed a shallow spill across the face of the dam during the light show, adding a whitewater backdrop for the colored lasers. When a seal leak on one gate began leaking last year, it meant the lasers had only the dark concrete to dance on.

Work to repair the seal on drum gate three, the villain last year, will begin March 14, and will be finished by May 14, said Lynne Brougher, public affairs officer for Grand Coulee Dam.

In fact, work will be done on a number of drum gates during the two-month work schedule.

Currently, workers are affixing platforms at the base of the drum gates so they can get to work when the water level in Lake Roosevelt reaches 1255 feet above sea level, the maximum lake level to allow work on the gates that control the spills over the top of the dam.

Brougher stated that, with current flood control data, experts are projecting the level of the lake to be at 1253 feet by the end of April. That all depends on weather that affects snow melt in the mountains, power demand and more.

Work is scheduled to repair the leak on drum gate three; inspect and, if needed, repair corner seals on three gates; replace gate seals and bumper seals on three gates; and perform annual maintenance on all gates.

Work scheduled also includes five-year maintenance on three gates; 11-year maintenance on two gates, ultrasonic hinge pin inspections on three gates, plus doing a number of maintenance items inside the dam, including replacing air filters, inspecting and repairing elbows and hoses on all gates.

The 11 drum gates are each 135 feet long and 30 feet high.

Ideally, Brougher stated, maintenance would be performed on the drum gates each year, but the lake level dictates when that can be done.

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