Lake Michie Dam Improvements

Client: City of Durham Water Management
Location: Durham, NC

Hazen and Sawyer has completed multiple projects for the City of Durham at Lake Michie Dam. Placed into service in 1926, the 3.6 billion gallon (BG) Lake Michie is impounded by a 96-foot high concrete gravity dam that is flanked by earthfill embankment sections. It is classified as a Medium Size, High Hazard Potential structure.

Little Michie Dam viewed from downstream.

Lake Michie viewed from the dam.

Construction of Lake Michie Dam.

Concrete gravity section viewed from abutment with earthen embankment dam.

Placement of riprap and stabilization of earthen embankment dam.

Rehabilitation of the concrete ogee spillway.

Inundation profile developed for Lake Michie Dam showing the approximate travel time and maximum flood elevation for critical downstream infrastructure used for emergency planning purposes.

The tabletop exercise of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) was facilitated by NC Dam Safety and attended by key stakeholders including local and state emergency management officials.

Electronic Operation and Maintenance (eO&M) Manual developed for Lake Michie Dam serves as a convenient repository for all pertinent information related to the facility.

Project Outcomes and Benefits

  • Repairs to the concrete ogee spillway were performed in the fall when lake water levels were low, providing access to the uncontrolled overflow section.
  • Preparation of EAP and assistance in completing a successful tabletop exercise attended by local and state emergency management officials.
  • State-of-the-art electronic O&Ms (eO&M) in which the historical database for facility design, construction and O&M are linked via a user-friendly HTML web page interface.
  • Regular inspections of Lake Michie Dam and related inspection reports.

Hazen and Sawyer’s involvement with Lake Michie extends to the 1970s when the firm evaluated the expansion of the existing reservoir as an alternative to constructing the Little River Reservoir, the city’s second major water supply reservoir, which was design by Hazen and Sawyer and placed into service in 1987. In a comprehensive 1988 water supply study, Hazen and Sawyer recommended the expansion of Lake Michie as the City’s best option for meeting its long-term water supply needs. The proposed expansion, which would increase reservoir storage up to five time its present capacity, has served as the City’s long-term water supply blueprint.

Hazen has completed a number of projects since that time, including stabilization of the left earthfill dam abutment section in 2005 and rehabilitation of the concrete ogee spillway in 2006. More recently, in 2007, the City of Durham retained Hazen and Sawyer to provide comprehensive services for the continued compliance of Little River Dam and Lake Michie Dam with the State of North Carolina Dam Safety Regulations. Specific tasks included preparing an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for each dam, updating the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manual for Little River Dam and developing an O&M Manual for Lake Michie Dam, providing a comprehensive update of the yield of Little River Reservoir and Lake Michie, assessing leakage and seepage flows from Lake Michie Dam, and performing annual dam safety inspections for each dam. The firm is currently completing the design of improvements to the Lake Michie raw water pumping station and related facilities.

For more information on this project, or to discuss a similar project in your area, contact Jeffery Powers at