Image of Sayers Dam

Stilling Basin Repairs

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District is preparing to restore the stilling basin at Foster J. Sayers Dam, providing planning, construction and engineering support that will address damage which has affected the baffle blocks and the stilling basin floor. Modifications will be made to avert future damage. The stilling basin and baffle blocks serve to minimize downstream erosion and water turbulence during high water releases from the dam. As part of the efforts to restore Foster J. Sayers Dam stilling basin, the Army Corps, with support of contractors, will start construction as early as July of this year and with scheduled completion by early spring of 2021. The area around the stilling basin will be fenced off and restricted from public access for safety assurance, as it will be an active construction site until the project is complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Q1. When will the public be able to fish in the stilling basin area again?

The stilling basin area will be permanently closed for public safety and to prevent damage to the baffle blocks and stilling basin which minimize turbulent water flow and prevent downstream erosion. Access restrictions downstream of the concrete stilling basin walls will be temporary and the visiting public will be allowed back after work is complete.

 Q2. Why did the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers choose this time frame to start this project, as it is during the fishing season?

The stilling basin repair work is a top priority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Without repairs, the damage to the stilling basin could cause downstream erosion and structural issues for the dam. By carrying out this maintenance work, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ensuring Sayers Dam can continue to reduce flood risks for downstream communities for years to come. Warm weather ensures the best repair, and the summer is typically when releases from the dam are the lowest.

 Q3. What if a high-water event occurs during the construction and build phase of the project? Will USACE have the capacity to execute its current Dam strategy to provide safety to the community?

The stilling basin repair work will not impact the ability of Sayers Dam to reduce flood risks to downstream communities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer and Research Development Center have completed multiple design test runs with a small scale physical model to optimize planned modifications and provide the maximum in dam safety assurance. Once a successful stilling basin design is complete, the Army Corps, Baltimore District, believes that this will be the most effective strategy to ensure safety and prevent future damage. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is committed to continuing to provide flood risks reduction through the operation and maintenance of Sayers Dam, which has prevented more than $233 million in flood damages since the dam’s completion in 1969.

 Q4. When will the project begin, and how long will the project take?

The project will begin early July 2020 and will finish approximately spring 2021. 

 Q5. How much will the project cost?

The cost of this project is $3.2 million, a significant investment the Army Corps deemed to be necessary to provide flood risk management that will not only save lives and the cost of flood disasters but prevent future downstream erosion. 

 Q6. The stilling basin seemed fine to me. Is there really a need to go forward with this project?

Continued maintenance is key to the operation of critical infrastructure like Sayers Dam. While the stilling basin damage may not be visible or pose an immediate threat, over time erosion caused by the failure of the stilling basin could impact the dam’s structural integrity. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is committed to maintaining Sayers Dam so it can continue to reduce downstream flood risks for years to come.