North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Rhodes Pond Dam History and Status Update

In 2005, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission) was contacted by the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) about Rhodes pond. At the time, the pond’s dam gates were in a state of disrepair and an inspection by the N.C. Land Resources Dam Safety Division noted several deficiencies needing correction. Investing in the dam’s repairs was not in NCDOT’s interest, so NCDOT’s options were to drain the pond or sell the property as surplus. As such, NCDOT and Commission officials met to determine if the Commission would be interested in the property.  

After a site visit by Commission staff, Rhodes pond was recognized as a wonderful resource for our constituents and local and state residents. The Commission felt if the dam was not repaired and the pond was drained, it would be a great loss to the citizens of North Carolina. In 2009, after coordination with the State Property Office and NCDOT, the property was transferred to The Commission. The NCDOT also transferred $150,000 of funding towards the repair of the dam gates.

The Commission spent an additional $350,000 replacing dam control gates and providing free public access opportunities, including development of a new boat ramp and floating docks, a floating fishing pier, road improvements, wildlife observation deck and parking lots. These handicap accessible facilities are free and open to the public 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The Commission also stationed a construction crew at Rhodes pond to perform maintenance and operations, in addition to construction activities.

The Commission partnered with the City of Fayetteville’s Parks and Recreation to provide onsite programs, such as fishing, kayaking, hiking and boating opportunities. The Commission also held public meetings to discuss plans and concerns with residents and Town Officials.

During Tropical Storm Andrea in 2013, the pond’s water level rose overtopping the dam causing erosion around the spillway. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Dam Safety Program inspected the dam and sent the Commission a notice of deficiency changing the dam’s classification from intermediate hazard to a high hazard, requiring The Commission to drain the pond until investigation and repairs could be made.

Creating overtopping protection was determined to be a cost-effective way of bringing the dam into compliance. Scheduled to be completed in December 2016, the repair project was progressing well. Then the weekend of October 8, 2016 disaster struck when Hurricane Matthew rolled into the area. 

The first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, since Hurricane Felix in 2007, Hurricane Matthew’s total rainfall within Rhodes Pond Dam’s drainage basin was estimated to be as high as 15 inches. For reference, the 100 year – 48-hour design storm required by North Carolina Dam Safety for high hazard dam design is approximately 10 inches. This high level of rainfall resulted in overtopping of the dam crest and breaches on both sides of the existing concrete primary spillway. Both I-95 and US 301 were shut down due to flooding.

Damage to the earthen portions of the dam were extensive with several small breaches and one very large breach. The 50-foot+ breach on the north end of the primary spillway revealed very poor-quality soils filled with sand, bricks, chunks of concrete, I-beams, lumber, etc. These soils will need to be removed then replaced and compacted with clean soils with a higher clay content.

The primary spillway, what most would refer to as “the dam”, sustained damage as well. The wall at the north end of the primary spillway shows evidence of shifting where the largest breach occurred. The breach also revealed large root infiltration into the concrete structure – a structure built in the early 1900’s, likely poured with cold seams and without steel reinforcement.

The Commission has worked diligently with FEMA for funding, as the cost of repairs for the dam is substantial. In July 2017, the Commission received notice from FEMA that the request for funding had been approved. The project, which will cost around $8.7 million, will be funded with $6.3 million by FEMA. The remaining $2.4 million will be funded by the Commission and a federal grant.

Today, the Rhodes Pond project includes a complete redesign which will help eliminate flooding issues, improve habitat for area wildlife and bring more outdoor recreation opportunities. The design engineering firm has been awarded the contract amendment and is working on the revised design at this time. Commission engineers are hopeful that the project will be completed by the end of 2018.