North Fork Dam Improvement Project earns national dam safety award

N Fork Dam
One aspect of the North Fork Dam Improvement Project is the new Auxiliary Spillway at Burnett Lake. The unique design of the Auxiliary Spillway allowed for a smaller environmental impact to the property.


Doing the right thing is its own reward, but it’s nice to be acknowledged on a national level for a job well done. Completed in 2020, Asheville’s North Fork Spillway and Embankment improvement Project not only makes the North Fork Dam safer against major storm and seismic activity for our community, it’s also caught the eye of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.


The project will receive the Rehabilitation Project of the Year Award Sept. 13 at the Dam Safety 2021 conference’s Awards Luncheon in Nashville, Tenn. Heavy earth-moving construction contractors Phillips & Jordan, who literally did the heavy lifting for this three-year project, received the notice that also invited the the City of Asheville and its partner agency Schnabel Engineering to the awards luncheon.


Originally built in 1955, the North Fork Dam the project raised the dam by 4 feet, and added earth buttressing to reinforce seismic stability. The principal spillway was improved while a new auxiliary spillway was constructed. The dam is now more resilient to climate change with its potential for larger storm events. 


Some numbers associated with the project:

  • 350,000 cubic yards of earth and rock were excavated;
  • Two bridges were installed;
  • A 200-by-600-foot spillway was constructed;
  • 2.5 million pounds of concrete reinforcing steel was installed.


Heavy equipment and, at times, explosives were involved. The end result will serve this community for many years to come.


“The improvements provide a much higher level of safety and resiliency for the dam and thus our water supply,” said Water Production / Water Quality Division Manager Leslie Carreiro, who principally oversaw completion of this project. “Use of the soil moved to the main dam during the construction of the auxiliary spillway provides seismic protection and a large material cost savings.”


Congratulations to Phillips & Jordan, Asheville Water Resources and Schnabel Engineering on this well-earned national recognition.