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New Taum Sauk Reservoir nears completion

Construction work at the Taum Sauk Reservoir site, June 29th, 2009.
Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Construction work at the Taum Sauk Reservoir site, June 29th, 2009.

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Work continues on the new Taum Sauk Reservoir in southeastern Missouri, which is owned by St. Louis-based utility AmerenUE.

The first reservoir collapsed in December 2005, sending more than a billion gallons of water rushing down a mountainside, wiping out Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, and injuring the park ranger's family.

Most of the reservoir's walls have been rebuilt atop Proffit Mountain, using a labor intensive method designed to minimize cracking.

And if there is another failure, Craig Giesmann, the plant's safety supervisor, says the water would be diverted along a safer path.

"If the pumps are not shut off, the way they should be, the water flow would go down an uninhabited section, still on Ameren's property, down Profit Mountain and back into the lower reservoir," Giesmann said.

Giesmann also says workplace safety has been upgraded, after a worker was fatally run over by a dump truck just over a month ago.

The new reservoir is scheduled to begin operations during the first half of next year.

Plant Manager Dave Fitzgerald says the new concrete walls that will hold the upper reservoir are much improved.

"We've got expansion joints, just like in a concrete highway, and there is a rubber piece that will allow the dam to expand and contract, and water still will not be able to pass that barrier," Fitzgerald said.

The estimated cost of the reservoir project so far is nearly $500 million.