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In the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, Gwinnett County participated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a program to protect land from flooding. Working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the USDA, 14 watershed dams were built in the county as a result of the program. Due to changes in the watershed, regulation changes and revisions to the estimates of flooding magnitudes, the dams need to be upgraded to meet stricter safety requirements. When people move in below large dams, the dam becomes a potential safety hazard in the event that the dam should beach. Therefore the dams must meet what are called Category I standards.

We are currently working on the engineering studies to upgrade five (5) other NRCS dams to Category I with two (2) studies being done in conjunction with the state. (See Figure Below) We are currently studying Yellow River No. 14 (Y-14), Yellow River No. 15 (Y-15), and No Business Creek No. 1 (N-1) for upgrade, and the State of Georgia is currently studying Yellow River No. 16 (Y-16) and Yellow River No. 17 (Y-17) for upgrade. The upgrade will typically involve relocating the emergency spillway to the dam embankment and armoring the embankment to safely pass the probable maximum precipitation (PMP) event. In addition, we will begin engineering study in 2002 for three (3) dams in the Big Haynes basin (H-3, H-22, and H-25) to identify the breach zone for each and develop upgrade alternatives for future capital improvement planning.

In February 2002, Georgia received $1.2 million out of $10 million nationwide from the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to aid in the costs to upgrade the dams. The grant provides for federal funds to cover 65% of the cost of the upgrade. The NRCS' State Conservationist office selected to award the funds to Gwinnett County for the Yellow River dams, in particular, because our capital improvement program to upgrade the dams shows our commitment and ability to provide financial resources required to upgrade the dams. We are currently in the planning phase for the construction upgrade to Y-14 and anticipate beginning construction sometime during late 2002 or early 2003.


NRCS Dams