#SchnabelSpotlights Bullock Pen Lake Dam

The Bullock Pen Lake Dam, located in Crittenden, Kentucky, is a high hazard potential dam, built in 1953 with the capability of handling only about 24% of the Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) without risk of overtopping. Shortly after its completion, erosion of the dam’s rock spillway became evident, raising concerns about a potential breach and the loss of the reservoir. In response to these issues, the Commonwealth of Kentucky ranked this project the first priority for rehabilitation among all state-owned dams, preparing the way for implementation of the Commonwealth’s now robust State Owned Dam Repair (SODR) Program.

Schnabel was tasked with evaluating the dam’s condition, conducting a thorough subsurface investigation, and developing solutions to the identified issues. Following a comprehensive analysis of alternatives, Schnabel designed and secured permits for the chosen solution. Schnabel coordinated closely with various state agencies, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the local water supply district, and landowners throughout the project.

The key modifications included constructing a 260-foot-wide reinforced concrete labyrinth spillway over the dam, complete with a reinforced concrete stepped chute and stilling basin. This new spillway system was engineered to handle the PMP safely without risking dam overtopping and to minimize impacts on upstream and downstream flood levels. Additional measures involved grouting the rock foundation, closing the old spillway, abandoning the existing non-functional reservoir drain, installing a new permanent siphon, and implementing various site enhancements.

This project received multiple accolades including the 2023 ACEC National Honor Award and the 2023 ACEC-Kentucky Honor Award. It was also featured in the Winter 2023 issue of The ASDSO Journal of Dam Safety.

The Bullock Pen project is a great dam safety success story, setting the stage for the ongoing successful implementation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s SODR program.

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This project received multiple accolades including the 2023 ACEC National Honor Award.