Rising lake prompts state assessment of earthen dam in Warren County

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | 3:05 p.m. CDT; updated 8:08 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Warren County officials are assessing an earthen dam near the Innsbrook Estates resort after a broken pipe caused a rise in a lake.

Contrary to some reports, Innsbrook spokeswoman Laura Hahn said the Alpine Dam was apparently in no danger of breaking. The dam protects property from Lake Alpine, one of about 100 lakes at the 7,400-acre resort.

Hahn said there were no evacuations planned and the situation was under control. A dispatcher at the Warren County Sheriff’s Department said officials were on the scene and were not available to comment. DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson said dam safety chief Jim Alexander and other staff members were assessing the dam.

Emergency management officials urged residents below the dam to be prepared to move to higher ground.

But Hahn downplayed any concerns.

“I think the press got inflated information at the beginning, and unfortunately, we’re trying to remedy that and get people the right information,” she said.

The incident began when an overflow pipe used to maintain the correct level of Lake Alpine broke. To fix the problem temporarily, Hahn said an intake pipe was plugged and water was redirected to a secondary spillway. She said the spillway was built just for these sort of instances.

Hahn said that contrary to earlier reports, the dam was never leaking. Water that appeared to be leaking was actually coming through the spot where the pipe broke, she said. Most of the property below the dam is undeveloped and owned by the resort.

Innsbrook Estates opened in 1971. It includes about 1,300 properties — A-frames, condominiums, villas — that serve as second homes or vacation homes. About 250 people live at the resort throughout the year, Hahn said.

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