By Mannix Porterfield
A controversy over The Resort at Glade Springs’ dam has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both owner Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman and his staff huddled with both Justice and his engineer to come up with a plan that consists of two major points.
One calls for the Beckley area resort to shore up the impoundment so that it can cope with a 100-year storm event.
“The dam has to be able to do that, and right now, it can’t,” Huffman said.
The other major stipulation is that Glade Springs deal with a risk management plan since the dam actually is used as a road, and necessary safeguards must be in place, Huffman pointed out Friday.
“The dam has overtopped and can overtop,” the DEP secretary said.
“Modifications will further reduce the opportunity for the dam to overtop. But there’s nothing wrong with the dam overtopping when it does, except we don’t want people on the road driving and falling through the cracks, walking out on it.”
Justice lauded Huffman as a voice of reason in the issue and commended him for working with him on the agreement.
“Randy is a reasonable man who helped come up with a common-sense approach,” the Glade Springs owner said.
“We got together and everybody worked very reasonably and we came to a solution that will work for everybody.”
Justice said it is too early to project what the mandated improvements will cost but indicated it would be far less than an earlier quoted figure of $9.2 million.
Huffman said the DEP at no time insisted that the dam encircling Mallard Lake be raised to a height of 40 feet.
The concern expressed earlier by the DEP was that if 27.5 inches of rain fell in a six-hour period, vehicles would be at risk.
As for the potential overflows in the future, Huffman said Glade Springs has a staff on duty 24/7, “so it makes implementing an emergency plan pretty simple.”
“So, we’re satisfied with that,” he said.
“They haven’t submitted us a plan yet but they’re going to. We’ll require them to close the road to monitor the dam as the water starts coming up, and close the road when it gets to overtopping and then they cannot re-open it until they have an engineer inspect it. That satisfies our concerns.”
The pact was welcomed by Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, a Glade Springs resident who early on sought a meeting of the stakeholders to resolve the matter.
“When people with like interests are able to sit down and discuss issues face to face, a compromise is usually had,” Green said.
“I knew with the outpouring of support from this community and Mr. Justice and (resort manager) Elmer Coppoolse’s commitment to the residents and employees at the resort, we would be able to work out a resolution.”
Green lauded Glade Springs and DEP officials for “putting their initial differences of opinions aside and hammering out this solution.”
“I am proud of our great state and her people and count myself very fortunate to be in a position to represent this county and help facilitate getting the stakeholders to sit down together,” he added.
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