Low water allowing work to begin on White River Lock and Dam 1

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 4:54 PM CST
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Drought has plagued many throughout the last few months, but a Northeast Arkansas county is taking advantage of low river levels.

US Army Corps of Engineer crews have been hard at work on White River Lock and Dam 1 in Batesville.

The dam provides water and electricity to a handful of towns in Independence County.

While a majority of work is being done on the hydroelectric side of the dam, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin said it’s increasing its overall lifespan.

He explained due to the age of the dam, some things are being repaired.

“There’s some crib timbers underneath that have deteriorated. They’re going to be replacing some of those,” said Griffin. “They’re also putting grout mats down to help fill some voids that have undermined under the structure.”

Judge Griffin said the work is to keep the dam up to code with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but work had to be put off over the last few years.

“The low river stages are actually a blessing due to the fact that this work needs to be completed. It’s two years in the making,” said Griffin. “COVID, it got put off due to the COVID, then we had a lot of higher water levels, so it got put off another year.”

With the improvements being performed, Judge Griffin stressed how the work would keep the dam sustainable for years to come.

“The improvements will lead to long-term stability for that structure that provides a pool of water, Unico Lake, for both Southside and Batesville and outlying areas.”