Congress has invested $665,000 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to install new prefabricated staircases for the safety of maintenance workers who use the staircases to inspect the condition of Luck Peak Dam.

These staircases allow access to Lucky Peak’s piezometers, an essential component to dam safety at Lucky Peak Dam. A piezometer is a geotechnical instrument that measures changes of water level or water pressure beneath the surface. There are 25 piezometers specifically arranged at Lucky Peak Dam to gather risk assessment data for engineers. The piezometers extend to different lengths beneath the surface to measure water depth at specific locations.

The piezometers were established and modified between the completion of the dam in 1955 and 2012 to gather the best geological readings. The instruments still provide accurate data for engineers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts weekly and monthly piezometer inspections around Lucky Peak Dam, comparing the data with previous recordings. The piezometer readings benefit USACE by verifying the performance of the dam. They help analysts identify uncommon water levels patterns and to make appropriate decisions for dam safety.

“We use the data to make risk-informed decisions of the performance of the project,” Steven Wyrembelski, Senior Geotechnical Engineer for the Walla Walla District, said.

There is only one way to access three important piezometers: through the staircases on Lucky Peak Dam. The staircases are old and are hazardous for maintenance workers who use them.

“Those three piezometers are the most important ones to tell us about the performance of the dam,” Wyrembelski said. “We are going to have a new system that improves access to those three.”

The BIL funding will allow new prefabricated staircases to be installed so that USACE officials can safely continue to access the piezometers to aid the wellbeing of the project and keep the Treasure Valley safe.

The design contract will be awarded in the fall of 2023 and construction will begin September of 2024.

In addition to weekly and monthly piezometer readings, USACE conducts one-year and five-year inspections of the equipment. The next five-year inspection is scheduled for 2024. Altogether, these inspections help to ensure Lucky Peak Dam remains solid and safe.

In the dam's almost 70-year history, it has stopped an estimated $2.4 billion in flood damages since 1961.

USACE engineers continue to look for ways to improve piezometer monitoring to maintain dam safety.

America's Engineers: The People, Programs, and Projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ® is published by American Conference & Event Media, LLC.

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

American Conference & Event Media, LLC., and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any person or company for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the material herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident, or any other cause whatsoever. The views and opinions in the articles or advertisement are to be taken as the official expression of the publisher, staff, or writers, unless so stated. Neither the publisher nor USACE warrant, either expressly or by implication, the factual accuracy of the articles or advertisements herein, nor so they so warrant any view or opinions offered by the authors of said articles.

Permission to use various images and text in the publication and on this website was obtained from USACE or U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and its agencies, and in no was is used to imply an endorsement by USACE nor any DOD entity for any claims or representations therein. None of the advertising contained herein implies USACE or DOD endorsement of any private entity or enterprise. This is not a U.S. government publication or website.
© 2023 American Conference and Event Media, LLC.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram