Army Corps of Engineers awards $71.9 million contract to rehabilitate Addicks and Barker Dams

Published Aug. 31, 2015

Construction to begin in September 2015

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 31, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, awarded a contract in the amount of $71,902,340 to Granite Construction Company for construction of new outlet structures at the Addicks and Barker Dams in west Houston.

Work will consist of construction of new intake towers, steel-lined conduits, parabolic chute slabs, stilling basins, cutoff walls and downstream filters, in addition to the grouting and decommissioning of the existing outlet structures in place at both dams. There will also be an additional seepage cutoff element for Barker Dam at Noble Road located south of Briar Forest Drive.

“The Corps’ primary objective is to maintain public safety by ensuring the dams we own and operate are safe and the risks to the public are minimized,” said Col. Richard P. Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander. “With interim risk reduction measures already implemented and long-term measures to be undertaken with this contract, it is expected that the dams and reservoirs will continue to serve the City of Houston for another 50 years.”

The 70-year-old structures were designated as extremely high risk in 2009 based on technical issues concerning the safety of the dams and the potential consequences to the City of Houston should the outlet structures fail.

“Partly because of this risk classification, the dams received the attention and funding to complete several interim risk reduction measures while USACE has been working on a long term fix,” said Enrique Villagomez, mechanical engineer and Addicks and Barker project manager with the USACE Galveston District. “The interim risk reduction measures implemented included filling the voids along the conduits and beneath the parabolic chutes caused by the seepage from the reservoirs, constructing a granular filter around the ends of the outlet structure  conduits to prevent voids from forming in the future, installing additional lighting to aid in increased inspection and monitoring, the addition of emergency generators to ensure uninterrupted power to the outlet  structures and the installation of steel plates to stabilize the concrete parabolic  chute slabs.”

According to Villagomez, while construction should have little impact on the operations of the reservoirs, there will be unavoidable impacts to the hike and bike trails located in the vicinity of the existing outlet structures and the adjacent construction area for the new outlet structures, as well as the parking lot and hike and bike trail in the Briar Forest area of Barker Dam.

“We will be working with the contractor and Harris County to minimize these impacts,” said Villagomez.

Residents will be able to track construction schedules, detours and upcoming events related to the Addicks and Barker Dams’ safety modification project thanks to story map technology located online at

“It’s the first time we’ve used this type of interactive web application to inform residents and recreational users about our construction plans,” said Villagomez. “The story map combines the location of the dams and recreational facilities with multimedia content to make it easy for viewers to find information while allowing us to post updates to keep viewers apprised of our construction progress.”

Work is expected to begin in September 2015 with an estimated completion date of summer 2019.

According to Villagomez, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continually inspects all of its dams nationwide under its Dam Safety Program – a program that shows our commitment to protecting lives, property and the environment by ensuring that all dams are designed, constructed, operated and maintained as safely and effectively as possible. The Corps' Dam Safety Program provides a framework to ensure that both short and long term solutions are studied and applied, and helps to ensure public safety for our local communities.

The Addicks and Barker dams and reservoirs have protected the Houston metropolitan area for more than 70 years. Since their construction, the dams have prevented more than $8 billion in potential flood damages. It is estimated that more than $2 billion in potential flood damages were prevented during the May 2015 flood event alone. 

When a rain event occurs that may result in flooding downstream of the dams, the outlet structure gates are closed in order to reduce the potential for flooding below the reservoirs along Buffalo Bayou. When the downstream flows along Buffalo Bayou have receded to non-damaging levels, reservoir operations resume, the gates are opened, and water is released from the reservoirs at a non-damaging rate until the reservoirs are empty.

Learn more about the Addicks and Barker facilities at For more news and information, visit Find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, or Flickr at

Addicks Reservoir

Release no. 15-051