North Fork Dam Improvement Project



north fork reservoir


Accomplishments since Spring 2018


  • Excavation for Auxiliary Spillway completed.
  • Top of auxiliary spillway constructed
  • Fusegate construction began in April 2019
  • Saddle dam reshaped, new filters and vaults installed and reseeded.
  • Re-enforcing of Main Dam began Spring 2018.
  • Conduit work began Winter 2019 – scheduled to be completed by July 2019
  • Intake Tower improvements completed May 2019

NOTE: The property received over 90 inches of precipitation in 2018 causing construction delays.




In a continued effort to prevent significant damage in the event of a natural disaster (flood or earthquake), the City of Asheville, in conjunction with consultants from Schnabel Engineering, have identified proactive improvement measures to be taken at the North Fork Reservoir to protect and improve critical infrastructure. The North Fork Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant serve as the City’s primary drinking water source, providing 70% of Asheville’s water. With so many people, businesses and industries dependent upon this critical natural resource, special care and proactive measures need to be taken to ensure our water source and infrastructure are protected.

Planned modifications at North Fork Reservoir include:

  • raising the dam by 4 feet;
  • improvements to the principal spillway and the addition of an auxiliary spillway;
  • modifications to the raw water piping through the dam and to the water treatment plant; and
  • earth buttressing to reinforce the main dam and saddle dam for seismic stability.

The bid for construction services was awarded in October 2017 to the contractor Phillips & Jordan, and construction is set to begin this winter.

Once completed, the dam will be able to better withstand inflow from severe storm events, as well as add capacity to the reservoir.

The dam, located at the North Fork Reservoir, was originally constructed in 1955 and its design was based on available information and industry standards for that time. In the last decade, advances in technology and data analytics have enabled engineers and scientists to better model and predict certain weather events and environmental conditions. More accurate information is available now than ever before and, due to that, best practices for modeling and simulating certain conditions have greatly improved. This information has allowed the City’s consulting engineers to simulate a variety of possible scenarios for extreme storm events. These models and design parameters are required by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Dam Safety, of all regulated dams. Based on the outcomes of these scenarios, the engineers have identified improvements to help protect the reservoir, the water source, and nearby residents in the event that one of these unlikely but possible events were to occur.


Emergency Action Plans


The City has had an Emergency Action Plan  (EAP) in place since the 1990s – and updated in 2006 – and has conducted training and “table top exercises” among senior staff within the City and surrounding communities’ emergency responders. Training topics covered what conditions constitute activating the EAP and how emergency responders will receive the information so they can be prepared, should an emergency associated with flooding arise.




August 22, 2016 Public information session at Doubletree Biltmore Village

August 23, 2016 Public information session at St. John’s Episcopal Church

August 24, 2016 Public information session at Riceville Community Center

August 25, 2016 Public information session at Bee Tree Fire Station Community Room

Fall 2016 Environmental consultant submits environmental permitting package to US Army Corps of Engineers and NCDEQ

Winter 2016 Engineers complete design, submit design package to NC Dam Safety for review

March 20, 2017 – Neighborhood Awareness Meeting  and  Presentation from Meeting

Spring – Summer 2017 Respond to agency comments on Environmental and Dam Safety permits and receive approvals as required.

Summer 2017 – Bid the construction work for the North Fork Reservoir Spillway and Embankment Improvement Project.

October 2017 – Bid contract awarded to Phillips & Jordan

November 20, 2017 – Construction update meeting at Black Mountain Public Library –  Presentation from Meeting

December 2017 – Construction mobilization to begin

Winter 2019 – Anticipated completion of construction for the North Fork Reservoir Spillway and Embankment Improvement Project.

Early Summer 2020 – Anticipated completion of the project.


Supporting Documents


Public Meeting Information

Frequently Asked Questions  – (updated May 02,2019)

Look Back at Asheville’s Historic Flooding Events

US Army Corps of Engineers

NC Department of Environmental Quality – Dam Safety

North Carolina Emergency Action Planning

Swannanoa Flood Risk Management Project





This video from HydroPlus demonstrates a scaled model of a labyrinth fuse gate system activating. This model is similar to a fuse gate that will be placed at the North Fork Dam auxiliary spillway.





This video demonstrates the type of blasting with delay charges that will be used at the North Fork project site. This project example has a similar geologic setting and rock type to the North Fork project. From it, you can examine what a typical blast looks like and sounds like within close range to the shot.




This video was from an April 9 blast. The angle is from the top of the coffer dam (temporary dam) looking down at what will become the auxiliary spillway – away from the lake.




Contact Information



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North Fork Dam Improvement Project News

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Final Asheville water transmission line tie-in to affect one neighborhood, Laurel Ridge 

    With the final tie-in transmission waterline installation on the North Fork Waterline Bypass Project set for Friday, Nov. 22, into Saturday, Nov. 23, we want to clearly communicate to our customers about the expected timeline and impacts. This transmission line tie-in is expected to affect customers in the Laurel Ridge neighborhood near [...]

Asheville streets drying out, Public Works monitoring for potential icy spots

    The snow that blew through Asheville this morning left wind in its wake, and that is drying out streets quickly.   “We have been all around the city all morning and have found very few to no issues,” said City Streets Manager Chad Bandy. “We will continue to have trucks ready to address spots as they are [...]

workers in ditch with large water pipes
Final phase of North Fork Waterline Bypass Project installation to trigger slight system-wide impact

  As the City of Asheville moves into the final phase of the North Fork Waterline Bypass Project, we want to let everyone know about key dates for the final installations. This phase of the project involves a tie-in to a 36-inch transmission line very near the source at the dam.  To do this, Water Resources [...]