Dam Hardening using Core Drilling

Dams are without a doubt, some of the largest, most majestic, and critical man-made structures in the world today. Their uses are many, ranging from hydroelectric power to water storage and flood control. Dams have been in the news of late, as well, with the Oroville Dam in Northern California nearly failing. Had the dam unleashed its reservoir on the surrounding countryside, millions of dollars in damage and loss of property could have occurred.

Water overflowing the parking lot past the emergency spillway (in the background), while water continues to flow through the main spillway (in the foreground), on Feb 11, 2017 – William Croyle, California Department of Water Resources

Luckily, catastrophe appears to have been averted at the Oroville Dam, but dam failures are nothing to take lightly. Because of their static and remote nature, dams can be seen as “out of sight, out of mind,” and real dam failures in the United States are exceedingly rare. That, however, does not mean dam safety, inspection, and maintenance are not important.

 Aggregate Technologies is an experienced contractor in the concrete industry, and that experience includes working with dams. Our firm is proud to have worked on the Olmos Dam in San Antonio, a dam that has stood since the 1920s. The city has experienced a massive boom in population since the early days of the dam, and increased runoff from the developed land has placed increased stress on the dam. To remain safe, and control flooding as it was designed, the Olmos Dam needed to undergo an extensive strengthening.

 Aggregate Technologies played a critical role in drilling the soil stabilization anchors that will increase the strength and stability of the dam. Our firm was responsible for drilling over 100 18-inch-wide by 4-foot-deep holes with 36-inch wide by six-inch deep overdrills. The core drilling had to be performed on the face of the wall at a 45-degree angle. ATI’s state-of-the-art equipment was up to the task of drilling for such a complex and sensitive project.

 If the near-disaster in Oroville showed anything, it is that close attention must be paid to the condition of our nation’s dams. Failure could wipe out entire communities at a moment’s notice. Aggregate Technologies is a proven leader in the concrete industry, including dams. There is no job that our proven contractors cannot handle. Aggregate Technologies welcomes the opportunity to lend our expertise to improving the safety of our nation’s dams.

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