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Design-Build Big Lake Dam

Big Lake Dam

Location: 94th Airlift Wing, Dobbins ARB, GA

Client: Air Force Reserve Command

In response to a year-end, fast turnaround request to design and build a replacement for the oldest standing dam in Georgia (Big Lake Dam). EMR assembled and mobilized a team of designers, suppliers, and potential subcontractors. Within two days of the call, EMR completed the site walk. Two days later, EMR completed the conceptual design and pricing, including firm subcontractors costs. The design included replacement of the existing dam with a 530 linear feet Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) dam constructed with 6,500 cubic yards of RCC, gravity buttresses, and installation of a 40-foot wide concrete spillway to meet 100 year flood requirements. The design of the new dam was accelerated, resulting in construction completion in four months - nearly two months ahead of schedule.


Construction began with erosion control measures, including the installation of 1,000 linear feet of silt fencing. Six-inch 30,000-gallons per hour diesel pumps were deployed to pump the lake level down, maintain the low water level during construction, react to rain events, and to ensure workers and the RCC product were not threatened by rising water during construction. Leaving the existing dam in place, excavators were used to expose the front face of the dam, which was thoroughly cleaned with a high-pressure washer so that the new RCC dam would achieve a good bond to the existing dam.


An existing roadway in the construction zone was closed, culverts were removed, and the road was excavated in preparation for installing the concrete dam footer. Excavation of 5,200 cubic yards of overburden was completed for the footer and the cutoff walls, which were keyed into bedrock. The footer was formed and poured and a temporary crush-and-run access road was constructed for transporting concrete from the onsite batch plant, as well as other materials and equipment, to the dam site. Value engineering was completed and the design was modified so that the compacted gravel access road could serve as the base course for the spillway and the spillway itself could serve as a low-water crossing for the dam structure.

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