Rhodes Pond Dam History

August 2022 Update

Following review of funding, FEMA has approved the increased cost for the project and work is well underway. Work completed to-date includes removal of the existing spillway, construction of water control berms and retaining walls, excavation of primary spillway area, and installation of lowest foundations. The work completed so far is all necessary to make construction of the spillway possible and constitutes roughly 40% of the project. Sequoia Services most recent construction schedule projects the project to be completed on-time in January 2023. After completion of the construction contract the gates will remain open and the dam will undergo review by NC Dam Safety before approval to impound water is issued. Once approval is issued the gates will be closed to begin the process of filling the impoundment.

July 2021 Update

During a recent cost increase request review process, FEMA decided to take a fresh look at the entire Rhodes Pond Dam project. During this review, FEMA determined that possible errors were made by their staff during the initial evaluation process for Rhodes Pond. (Funding approval for the project was granted by FEMA in 2016. The funding approval letter is attached.)

As a result, FEMA is reconsidering the funding eligibility for the entire project. At this time, FEMA has placed the project under review until a final determination can be completed. FEMA has also requested additional information from WRC. We estimate the amount of time for this review to take place is a minimum of 4-12 months. Due to the funding issues WRC will be making decisions on how to best move forward. The contractor has mobilized onsite and initial phases of work are already underway. 

Groundbreaking Ceremony (May 2021)
NCWRC staff, local officials, state dignitaries, community partners and residents attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Dunn.

Permit Approved (December 2020)
An intensive Individual Permit process by the US Army Corp of Engineers was conducted and the permit was approved with the State Construction Office plans approval.

Public Meeting in Godwin (April 2019)

Design engineering firm hired (March 2019)
McGill Associates was awarded the contract amendment was approved by N.C. Dam Safety to proceed forward with design to a revised and higher standard.

FEMA Funding Request (2017)
Request for funding approved. The project, which initially was intended to cost around $8.7 million, will be funded with $6.3 million by FEMA. The remaining cost will be funded by the Commission and a federal grant.

Hurricane Matthew (2016)
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.

Tropical Storm Andrea (2013)
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. 

Property Transfers to NCWRC (2009)
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 N.C. Department of Transportation (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.

NCDOT and NCWRC Meet to Discuss Rhodes Pond Property (2005)
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission was contacted by the NCDOT about Rhodes pond in 2005. 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.