Bently plans new dam for mud lake |

Bently plans new dam for mud lake

by Christy Chalmers

The Mud Lake dam won’t be seeing much of the new millennium.

The 97-year-old dam will be rebuilt in 2000. Carson Valley entrepreneur Don Bently, who owns the dam and much of Mud Lake’s water, is planning to replace the old, earth-filled dam with a narrower, stronger structure designed to withstand an 8.0 earthquake.

Bently, who founded Bently Nevada, an electronics corporation, and owns Bently Agrowdynamics, an agricultural operation, already has buildings designed to safely weather strong quakes. His representatives say plans for replacing the dam are no different.

“Eventually, a quake will hit, and we wish to be prepared,” says Bently.

Mud Lake is located south of the Gardnerville Ranchos, just over the California border. The structure dates to 1902, when William F. Dressler built a clay-filled dam that would hold 500 acre-feet of water to be used for irrigation. Bently officials say the dam was expanded in 1909 to hold 5,000 acre-feet of water. Bently, who owns 2,646 acre-feet of water now stored in the reservoir, acquired the dam in 1996.

Steve Sabin, Bently Nevada’s corporate marketing manager, said replacement of the dam is expected to be complete in June of 2000 at a cost of $7 million.

“It’s not being done as a burden to anybody else,” said Sabin. “He’s paying for it entirely out of his own pocket.”

Information provided by Bently alludes to asking the Carson Water Subconservancy District, which has 526 acre-feet of water in Mud Lake, to pay some of the cost, but it doesn’t suggest an amount. The taxpayer-funded Subconservancy District covers most of the Carson River’s watershed in Nevada.

Bently representatives have previously scheduled presentations with the Subconservancy District board on the dam replacement plans, but the meetings were postponed. District Manager Ed James said he hasn’t been formally notified of the dam replacement but will probably ask for an update.

“We have not seen anything official from them,” said James, adding that financial participation hasn’t been discussed. “Our goal would be in January, asking them to have the engineers come out and give an update of what they’re doing, the cost of construction and how it would be constructed.”

Bently representatives say concerns about seismic activity are driving the replacement plans. A 6.0 quake hit the Double Spring Flat area south of Gardnerville in 1994, and the dam was subsequently inspected. The inspection resulted in the dam’s listing among the state’s “high risk” dams, though repair and rebuilding weren’t mandated.

The new dam will be built slightly downstream from the present dam and incorporate natural land contours, meaning the new dam will span just over 950 feet instead of the current length of nearly 2,000 feet. The dam will have a concrete base.