Winter diving planned at Caples Lake

By From page A1 | November 08, 2013

Faced with a time limit, the El Dorado Irrigation District Engineering Division recommended a sole source negotiated contract to replace the outlet gates at Caples Lake.

The work will be done in the winter by Syblon Reid for $329,000. The company had previously worked on the Caples Lake outlet gates installing new ones in 2008. The deadline is to get the work done before the gates are due to open in February for the spring runoff.

The gates installed in 2008 used a polyethylene/neoprene seal system. There are two gates — an upper and lower gate. The lower gate is stuck open 2.5 inches and is letting out water at the rate of 9 cubic feet per second, according to EID engineer Jake Eymann.

Replacement gates have been ordered at a cost of $11,000 and the plastic seals will be replaced with bronze seals, which will leak more but are expected to be more ruggedly dependable.

When Syblon Reid replaced the gates in 2008, the entire lake was drained and fish moved to Silver Lake. This time the gate replacement will be done by Ballard Diving, who will descend down a vertical shaft 300-400 feet long. The shaft is 5 feet by 5 feet and narrows to 2.5 feet at the gate opening. Water temperature is 32-40 degrees, Eymann said.

Director George Wheeldon remarked when this issue was brought before the Board of Directors Oct. 28 that he would have to be a skinny diver.

Eymann said there would be no tanks on the diver’s back, but rather he would be fed oxygen from the surface.

Another $42,000 goes to GEI for specialty engineering services on the project. GEI includes Dr. Sagar, a specialist in hydraulic and structural designs and selection of equipment. Sagar is chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers Gates Committee and founding chairman of the U.S. Committee on Large Dams subcommittee on Gates and Valves.

“GEI provided valuable input to this point,” Eymann said.

The repair is expected to take three weeks. Altitude of Caples Lake is 7,900 feet. The work will begin in January.

“Syblon Reid has provided invaluable input at this point,” Eymann said.

Syblon Reid will conduct traffic control and snow removal. The big tasks are bulkhead installation and removal, water control, installation and maintenance of a temporary bypass pumping system, valve house roof removal and reinstallation. Syblon Reid also has had “input” into the replacement gate design and constructability review using past knowledge of previous installation at Caples Lake.

The project was approved by the board 5-0.

Michael Raffety

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