Morris Mill Dam to see $1.4 million in upgrades

Upgrades to Morris Mill Dam, south of Salisbury near Fruitland, are expected to begin in the fall and be finished in nine to 12 months.

The $1.4 million project will involve installing a box with gate that can be raised and lowered to control the elevation of the pond and allow it to be lowered before a major storm, said Wicomico Public Works Director Dallas Baker.

“The water would go into the box and into a pipe under the road, replacing the outfall structure. Now there are metal pipes under there. We will put in two concrete pipes each with a 6-foot diameter and about 80 feet long,” Baker said.

The project will be put out for bids. An informational, public meeting was scheduled for earlier this week.

Morris Mill and Colburn Mill dams are both high-hazard dams, explained Assistant County Administrator Weston Young. Upgrades will eventually be done to Colburn Mill, as well.

“If Morris Mill fails there is threat to life or property downstream, whereas Barren Creek, when it failed, other than sending a lot of water and sentiment downstream nobody’s life or property was at risk,” Young said, referring to the dam in Mardela Springs.

“We had a lot of heavy rains last year and I want to say there was one in September that nearly overtopped Morris Mill Dam. So, making the upgrade, I know it will improve the lake capacity and that’s a good thing. It will give us a little more control over the dam and meet dam safety requirements,” Young said.

Baker said the Maryland Department of the Environment determines classifications depending on the number of people that would be affected.

“If you have, maybe, 10 people that would be flooded out if a dam failed, the MDE classifies it as a high-hazard dam. It has nothing to do with dam conditions. That’s how they quantify it. If you have a high-hazard dam, the MDE holds you to a higher standard,” Baker said.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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