Dam Safety team performs periodic inspections at Green River Lock and Dams No. 1, 2

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Aug. 18, 2023
Louisville District’s Kate Brandner and Melanie Babin inspect the surroundings of the lock wall at Green River Lock and Dam No. 1

Louisville District’s Kate Brandner and Melanie Babin inspect the surroundings of the lock wall at Green River Lock and Dam No. 1 in Reed, Kentucky, Aug. 16, 2023.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District teammates from Dam Safety, Hydrology & Hydraulics, Navigation, Mechanical and Electrical Sections, along with project personnel, recently performed periodic inspections of Green River Lock and Dams No. 1 and 2, Aug. 14-16, 2023. 

All Louisville District dams receive a comprehensive inspection once every five years by an experienced team of engineers and scientists from the district office. Members of the inspection team are knowledgeable in the design, construction and maintenance of the dam. The team inspects all parts of the structure; all gates, valves and operating equipment are inspected and tested. 

“The inspection findings and recommendations are documented in a formal report and submitted to USACE offices in Cincinnati, Ohio,” Brandner said. “If the inspection team recommends remedial actions, the work is scheduled and completed based on prioritization.”

During an inspection, all geotechnical, hydraulic, structural, mechanical and electrical components of the project are inspected and tested to ensure everything is in working order. Findings are then discussed with the team and project staff and recommendations for improvements, if applicable, are provided.  

“For the hydrology and hydraulics portion, we time the filling and emptying of the lock chamber and looking at all the wetted surfaces - upstream, downstream, around the dam – we are looking for anything changing or eroding, all around the project,” said Melanie Babin, Louisville District hydrology and hydraulics water manager. “If we see anything unusual, then we have to get as close to it as possible to that area to try to measure it and see how fast the situation is developing.”

The original Green River Locks and Dam 1 and 2 facilities were opened for barge traffic in 1840. The existing Locks and Dam 1 and 2 were both authorized as replacements July 29, 1953, by the Secretary of the Army under authority of Section 6 of the Rivers and Harbors Act approved March 3, 1909. The existing Green River Locks and Dams 1 and 2 began construction in 1954. Locks and Dams No. 2, located in Calhoun, Kentucky, was placed in operation in May 1956, and Locks and Dams No. 1, located in Reed, Kentucky, was placed in operation in June 1956. 
“Green River Lock and Dam 1 and 2, as we know them today, have been around since the 1950’s. The project staff do a fantastic job of maintaining these aging structures. The team’s goal is to provide component specific recommendations to ensure the project will be able to function for another 70 years and beyond, for these and every project in Louisville District's inventory,” Brander said. “It also serves as a great way to build relationships between operations and engineering divisions, giving resources for the project to reach out should issues arise.” 

Just in Fiscal Year 2023, which runs from October 2022 through September 2023, the dam safety team performed seven periodic inspections at Louisville District projects. In addition, annual inspections and comprehensive instrumentation reviews were completed for all flood risk management and navigation projects.

Dam safety professionals carry out the dam safety program to make sure these projects deliver their intended benefits while reducing risks to people, property, and the environment through continuous assessment, communication and management.