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Construction of the new Taum Sauk Reservoir begins

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Ameren UE has begun rebuilding the Taum Sauk Reservoir in Southeastern Missouri.

The walls of the mountaintop lake collapsed two years ago today (Dec. 14th, 2005), and sent 1.5 billion gallons of water rushing through Johnson's Shut-ins State Park.

It destroyed much of the park and injured the family of the park superintendent, who were living on the grounds.

Ameren officials invited reporters to the top of Proffit Mountain to observe the beginning stages of the reservoir's reconstruction.

Mark Birk, Vice President of Power Operations, says what's left of the old structure will be completely demolished.

"We're running it through a rock-crushing and grading operation that'll size it, and then we're going and re-using it back into the new facility," Birk said.

Ameren officials say the new reservoir will have a stronger foundation and will meet all current dam safety regulations.

"We plan to have 24/7 video monitoring, we did not have that on the old reservoir...we will redesign the level controls and protection system and they will be thoroughly tested and operational...we've had all of our hydro people go through additional dam safety training since the event, and we will continue that," Birk said.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Parks Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Ameren from rebuilding the hydroelectric plant.

They want a more careful environmental study of the facility's impact.