It’s not every day that SEAS gets out of the woods, but recently, SEAS President, John Gustin, Remote Sensing Manager, Kent Stewart and SEAS Technical Lead, Jerry Allen were invited to present at the USACE Community of Practice Meeting about a rather unique project.
The purpose of this project was to assess the integrity of a tunnel/conduit concerning public safety and commerce. This tunnel/conduit is located directly under the Buckhorn Dam.
Buckhorn Lake is located in the counties of Perry and Leslie, Kentucky and the dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is an earthen dam, 160 feet high and 1,202 feet long at the crest and has a surface area of one thousand two hundred and thirty acres. The lake was created by the Corps of Engineers in 1967 by impounding the Kentucky River.
SEAS performed a high-resolution 3D terrestrial LiDAR scan and imagery collection of the interior of the reinforced concrete conduit running through the dam and produced a point cloud, a 3D CAD model and cross sections. The conduit is 14’ in diameter and 640’ long. The concern by the end user is that the conduit is deforming under the weight of the massive earth dam on top of it. The data was used to detect cracks, structural deflection and other defects in the condition of the aging structure.
This project was right up our alley, or tunnel for that matter. SEAS engineers and surveyors went to work to overcome the challenges as accuracy for any kind of deformation study is paramount. Being that the tunnel/conduit is located underground; the dark and wet conditions were the primary challenge.
“We have learned that a team approach between the end user, the Corps of Engineers and the contractor, is the best approach to ensure success.” Gustin explained in his presentation. Prior to any work being performed, SEAS virtually met with the project site personnel, Corps Safety personnel, Corps technical personnel and the engineers (the end users of the data) to get a complete understanding of the reason for the survey, formulate a safe plan and coordinate access to the dam conduit.
The USACE approved safety plan was gone over with crew before work started. Air quality in the conduit was constantly monitored. Talk about the canary in the cage! The entire time the crew was in the conduit a person was just outside in case of an emergency. This was perhaps the most boring job on the project, as he had to just sit outside the entrance in a rather small boat, surrounded by fishing lines all day. Our personal protective gear was hard hat with headlamp, waders, and life vest for when we were in the boat or wading deeper water.
“I have been working with the Corps of Engineers as a contractor for almost 40 years. Over the years, I have been impressed with the challenges that the Corps is faced with. Whether it be maintaining navigable channels, building new dams or monitoring the integrity of existing aging structures. All of these directly affecting public safety and commerce. This project at Buckhorn dam is a good example of those challenges.” -President John Gustin
It’s always an honor to work and collaborate with the US Corps of Engineers and SEAS was honored for the opportunity to present to the Community of Practice.
SEAS is recognized throughout the USACE and nationally as a leader in Hydrographic Surveying and Mapping, having provided surveying and mapping services for 17 USACE Districts. SEAS fields fifteen fully equipped survey crews (5 hydro & 10 land), has 8 Professional Surveyors and 2 licensed Professional Engineers.