Devastating flooding from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was particularly bad in North Carolina, where 15 people died and dam safety officials were concerned with the imminent failure of several dams, including Woodlake Dam located on the Lower Little River in Vass, N.C.
Officials have since said the Woodlake Dam structure is stable.
But, problems for the dam will remain an issue in the immediate future after it was made public on Jan. 4 that Florida-based Geosyntec Consultants, via its office out of Raleigh, terminated its contract with the dam’s owners to make repairs.
Geosyntec sent a letter terminating their contract to repair the dam, because of non-payment of services, in late December to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and the dam's owners, Woodlake CC Corp. and Hamburg, Germany-based Steiner + Company GmbH & Co.
In part, Geosyntech said, “As we have previously advised, the reason for termination is the non-payment of outstanding invoices in the amount of approximately US$270,000, and Woodlake’s apparent inability to pay for the further services required to conform to the Dam Safety Order (DSO) issued by the NCDEQ on Nov. 17, 2016. In addition to the issues relating to non-payment for services to date, it appears that Woodlake is insolvent as to its ability to fund the work required by the Dam Safety Order.”
The dam impounds a 10,000 acre-feet reservoir and was rated as one of the state's largest high-hazard dams in 2015.
NCDEQ on Nov. 17 issued an order that Woodlake Dam must have its engineers begin work on a temporary breach of the dam beginning Dec. 8 and be completed by Dec. 31. Additionally, the order gave the dam’s owners 91 days from issuance for engineers to submit complete documents to NCDEQ detailing planned repairs.
Local reports indicate the dam’s owners have yet to comply with the NCDEQ DSO, and the case has been passed on to NCDEQ’s Office of General Counsel, the first step in taking legal action.