Md. asks city for emergency repair at Lake Roland Dam

April 24, 2008|By John Fritze

State regulators have asked Baltimore to make emergency repairs to gates that regulate the flow of water from the Lake Roland Dam in Baltimore County, city and state officials said yesterday.

A spokesman with the Maryland Department of the Environment said state inspectors noted bent rods on the dam's sluice gates last summer.

The city has been working with an engineering firm to address the problem.

"One of our inspectors noticed a bent rod," said Robert Ballinger, an MDE spokesman. "Any time we talk about dam safety it's important because it's a public health interest."

City and state officials said there was never any direct danger to public safety because of the bent rods but added that all citations for dam inspections are taken seriously and demand prompt attention.

The city has negotiated an emergency $97,350 contract with Glenwood-based EMH Environmental Inc. for dam repairs, but the Board of Estimates has not approved it.

The dam, built in 1862, has had a long history of structural problems.

In 1992 a state official called the dam "a major disaster waiting to happen." It has been reinforced since then. A 1984 study suggested that downtown Baltimore would be under 4 feet of water if the dam gave way.

But Gennady Schwartz, chief of engineering services for the city's Department of Recreation and Parks -- which oversees the dam -- said the problem is not serious enough to raise concerns of failure and said it should be fixed this year.

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