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Ameren completes project to strengthen Bagnell Dam

MILLER COUNTY, Mo. – A project to protect an important source of electricity, as well as a big part of Missouri’s tourism industry, is now in place. The Bagnell Dam project has been completed.

The dam creates enough electricity to power 52,000 homes each year. It also keeps Lake of the Ozarks in place, which means hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism.

“If this dam were to have a problem, it affects way more than Ameren and our customers, it affects the whole state of Missouri,” said Warren Witt, director of hydro operations for Ameren Missouri.

Ameren officials took reporters deep inside the Bagnell Dam on Tuesday. The 87-year-old structure is in fine shape at the moment, but administrators want to make sure it’s around for another hundred years.

“This will ensure that the dam maintains its stability long-term,” said Mike Hartwig, MC Industrial.

A time-lapse video shows crews have been working for more than a year to strengthen the dam. White spots show where they added scores of anchors that are sunk 60 feet into bedrock, keeping the dam in place.

“They’re fighting the uplift of water pressure under the dam and prevent shifting,” Hartwig said.

Workers also poured 66 million pounds of new concrete. The anchors and the concrete make the hydro dam super strong.

“We added about 200 million pounds of strength pulling the dam down to bedrock and that is a lot of factor of safety,” Hartwig said.

Hartwig said the project was challenging but gratifying. The $53 million project created 220 construction jobs.

The Union Electric Company (now Ameren Corporation) began work on the Bagnell Dam in 1929. It took approximately 20,000 workers to construct the dam and its 12 floodgates. When the dam was finished in 1931, some of those crews headed west to work on the Hoover Dam in Nevada.