Dam Flood Plain Fills With High Water

May 15, 2020

Chena River Flood Control Project flood plain in August, 2017.
Credit Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers continues to operate the Moose Creek Dam in North Pole, to prevent the Chena River from flooding Fairbanks. Army Corps Alaska District operations chief


 Julie Anderson says the Chena Flood Control Project dam has been in use since a surge of snow melt entered the drainage.

"Had a lot of snow stored in the mountains, and since we had all that 80 degree weather last weekend, that helped it all melt off.”

Anderson says the dam gates were lowered Monday and have remained down, diverting enough water to keep the river within its banks through Fairbanks.

"It's just been continuous. We have about four feet of pool, so, we have quite a bit of water in the floodway, it's about halfway filled.”

Anderson says the water impounded in the dam basin fills an area that’s as much as 3 miles long, and up to a mile wide.  She says snow melt runoff is now declining, and work is underway to remove trees and brush piled up on the dam, which she says will continue to operate until the impoundment basin is drained.

"We're in the process bailing debris out. The idea now is that with the river dropping, we wanted to release that pool slowly down the river.”

It’s the second time the project has been operated this spring. Anderson says the dam gates were initially lowered in late April when an ice jam raised levels on the Chena in Fairbanks, a use of the dam she says has only occurred one other time in the flood control project’s 40-year history.