North Fork Dam Improvement Project
North Fork Dam Improvement Project
In a continued effort to prevent significant damage in the event of a natural disaster (flood or earthquake), and to meet the regulatory standards and design requirements set by North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Dam Safety Division, the City of Asheville, in conjunction with consultants from Schnabel Engineering, identified and implemented proactive improvement measures at the North Fork Reservoir to protect and improve critical dam infrastructure.
The North Fork Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant serve as the City’s primary drinking water source, providing 70% of Asheville’s water. With so many people, businesses, and industries dependent upon this critical natural resource, proactive measures were taken to ensure our water source and infrastructure remain protected.
Some of the infrastructure improvements completed at North Fork Reservoir include:
Raising the dam by 4 feet;
Rehabilitating the principal spillway;
Adding an auxiliary spillway;
Installing new electrical instrumentation;
Making modifications to the raw water piping; and
Implementing embankment stability berms.
The project is nearing completion and is scheduled to be fully operational as of October 2020. As such, the City of Asheville scheduled a final public information and project closeout session.
Please scroll down to view the public information session titled "Emergency Preparedness and North Fork Dam Project Finalization."
For a project recap please visit ashevillenc.gov.
We invite you to visit the City’s informational webpage for the North Fork Dam Improvement Project prior to submitting a question, to make sure it has not already been answered. This resource provides a wealth of information regarding the project as well as a summary of frequently asked questions.
Questions were due by midnight August 7.
Answers to resident questions about the North Fork Dam Improvement Project
Submitted to the City of Asheville July-August 2020
Question: Do you have macro-stats for the project? Tons of cement/concrete? Tons of dirt moved? Days lost to rain? Total Final Cost? Etc.
Answer: Concrete = 15,236 CY (design)
Filter Media (sand and stone) = 26,300 CY (design)
Length of drain pipe = 10,520 feet (design)
Excavation (soil moved) = 368,023 CY
Days lost to rain = 239
Final cost (currently) = $36,369,256.61 (will be more)
Question: What is the ground cover on the dam and around the spillway? May we assume the watershed will not be using Chinese Silver Grass this time?
Answer: Chinese Silver Grass has been eradicated on the main dam and associated locations. A fescue and rye grass mixture will be sown in fall/winter 2020.
Question: Will the white concrete in the auxiliary dam continue to be visible from the North Fork-Right Fork region? Will the part of the mountain that was scooped out be covered by vegetation?
Answer: Any remaining areas that are not road or spillway will be seeded with grass.
Question: When will the reservoir be back up to full? And will “full” include actually being against that 4-foot wall added to the current dam?
Answer: The 4-foot concrete parapet is intended as a dam safety measure to protect the main dam from overtopping during a large storm event. The reservoir pool will remain at the pre-construction elevation of 2,601.5 feet.
Question: Is the road from one side of the new spillway to the other side still there? Or is it now on top of the spillway? Or did some other bridge have to be constructed?
Answer: The City has ensured access across the property for maintenance and as emergency access for supplies and Laurel ridge neighborhood residents. A bridge was constructed over the new auxiliary spillway as part of the access road. The public access road availability will be the same as pre-construction.
Question: Is it true that lights will be installed on the new spillway? If so, will they be on all the time or only when maintenance is needed? If installed, it seems that they will ruin the dark night skies that we used to enjoy in our valley before this project began.
Answer: The current plan is to have the lights on at night to deter trespassing activities. Lights, meeting the City’s standards, will be installed on the bridge and the road. Residents above the new auxiliary spillway will be able to see these improvements.
Question: Can you provide some type of video or pictures so we can actually see what has been done?
Answer: These are available on the City’s North Fork Dam project page.
Question: Is the drawing rendition (2018) of the completed project accurate? This shows blue water coming over the auxiliary dam. According to the FAQs published, the dam is expected to be in use for a 200-year flood event. Therefore, the concrete auxiliary dam will not be in use much and be a dry exposure nearly 100 percent of the time annually. What can be done to soften this eyesore on the environment?
Answer: You are correct in that the new spillway will not often contain significant flow and that the concrete will be exposed most of the time. Over time, the concrete will darken and blend better with the natural surroundings. The new spillway is a sustainable measure the City has taken to keep the current dam system in compliance with current regulation and ensure water supply for the region for many years to come. When the City purchased the North Fork watershed, it made a commitment to preserve the area from general development. The beauty of the watershed that you see now is due to the City’s foresight, planning, and action to keep the watershed natural for water supply. This has allowed for the natural habitat to remain undisturbed by things like housing developments that require permanent destruction for structures such as paved surfaces, housing foundations, and utilities easements.
Question: Please consider making the surrounding areas open to hiking recreation.
Answer: The reservoir and surrounding area is a Class I protected area, which doesn’t allow for recreational use. This is to preserve the water and the land around it.
Question: I think there should be regulated swimming permitted for residents by issuing swimming permits for a fee to residents of the county.
Answer: The reservoir and surrounding area is a Class I protected area, which doesn’t allow for recreational use. This is to preserve the water and land around it.
Question: The residents on North Fork-right Fork and North Fork-Left Fork roads were promised that our respective roads would be “maintained” during the duration of the project. Heavy equipment has done a significant amount of damage to our roads and only minimal repair work on them has been completed to date. What guarantee do we have that the roads will be “adequately” repaired as promised?
Answer: The City is working with NCDOT to determine the areas in need of repair. Once this is finalized, the next step will be to contract the work. Work will only be completed once all heavy equipment has been removed from the property.
Question: Will North Fork-Right Fork be repaved now that concrete trucks have gone? We realize NCDOT will be in charge, but you all have a date? And will the company or City contribute to the costs? (We’ve seen NCDOT doing checks and measurements throughout the process with the intention, we think, of asking for help with the repaving.)
Answer: The road is on the NCDOT list for repaving. The City has contacted NCDOT for an estimate on when work will begin.
Question: The 100 or so residents who live along North Fork-Left Fork and Laurel Ridge have suffered through a very long period of roadblocks, mud holes, and traffic delays. The road has been left in much worse condition than when the project started. Will North Fork-Left Fork be restored and repaved?
Answer: This has been previously addressed.
Question: Will the signs on North Fork and Right Fork directing concrete trucks to the auxiliary dam construction site be removed from the roadside?
Question: Please pick up the signs on posts set in cement-filled buckets on North Fork and Right Fork that direct concrete trucks to the auxiliary spillway construction site.
Answer: The final tasks on this project include the removal of these signs.
Question: I live on North Fork Left Fork and that road is a mess because of the overloaded trucks. What are you going to do about it? It needs to be resurfaced not repebbled.
Answer: Response addressed in previous questions.
Question: Would like to know when they’re actually going to use the spillway for billing purposes.
Answer: Question is unclear. Perhaps the individual means when will the spillway be operational. The spillway will be operational by the end of September 2020.
The City of Asheville will be hosting a virtual public information session at 6.30 p.m. August 17 via the City’s Engagement Hub to cover the following topics:
The importance of weather-related emergency preparedness
Project closeout update for the North Fork Dam Improvement Project
The meeting will be prerecorded and as such we will not be able to accept live questions. That is why we asked questions in advance.