May 03, 2017

ACEC Honors Lake Delhi Dam Reconstruction

Project receives National Honor Award

Lake Delhi Dam wins National Honor Award

The Lake Delhi Dam Reconstruction project received a National Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) in its annual engineering excellence competition. Known as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry,” the competition honors the year’s most outstanding engineering accomplishments around the country.

The dam also has received the 2017 Iowa Grand Conceptor Award, which is the highest honor in the state ACEC competition, as well as the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineer's Exceptional Engineering Award, the top award in its annual competition.

Designed by Stanley Consultants, the reconstructed dam features a labyrinth spillway, the first of its kind in Iowa and one of the largest in the Midwest. The labyrinth design can pass high volumes of water across a short distance without using mechanical gates or electrical systems. The accordion shaped spillway makes it possible, tripling its capacity to pass water as compared to a conventional spillway design.

The reconstructed dam was completed six years after floodwaters overtopped and breached the original earthen dam. In just a matter of hours the popular recreational lake had drained, and the region’s economic engine was reduced to 450 acres of muck.

Rebuilding the dam met opposition on multiple levels. Stanley Consultants, an Iowa-based engineering firm, played an essential role navigating the $13-million project through multiple roadblocks for six years. Completing the vast array of classification, permitting, and funding requirements took four years, followed by two years of construction.

In October 2016, just weeks after the lake reopened, the dam was put to the test by the lake’s fifth largest recorded flood. The automated gates performed flawlessly and the floodwater passed with no significant rise in the water level near the dam.