To prevent Fairbanks flooding, Moose Creek Dam starts regulating the Chena River again

The Chena River Flood control project was built by the Army Corps of Engineers after the devastating 1967 flood in Fairbanks. The project’s main features, a dam and connected spillway, protect the community during heavy rains and reports the facility has gotten heavy use in recent weeks.

Listen now

The Moose Creek Dam is regulating the Chena River again. Chena Flood Control Project manager Tim Faevel said the dam, which diverts water from the Chena at North Pole to prevent flooding in Fairbanks, was re-activated late Sunday in response to weekend rains.

“So we’re diverting water, some of that flood water, into the floodway again and we’ll continue to do that probably for another couple days,” Faevel said.  

The dam’s activation follows 8 continuous days of operation which ended July 28th. Faevel said diverted water is again filling the flood control basin, which looked like a lake last week.

”You could canoe all over out there and so there was probably anywhere from just a couple feet to some places ten feet deep of water,” Faevel said.

Faevel noted that the over 3 mile long dam created lake’s peak level last week was the highest recorded since 1994.

“Which is interesting,” Faevel said. “We didn’t expect that. And the fish ladder was activated and we had chums and king salmon going up and using the fish ladder to get up stream and spawn. That was another twist to this whole thing.”

Faevel said salmon normally travel through dam side channels to get upstream, and only need the ladder at higher water levels. Another by product of dam operation is build-up of trees and brush behind its gates, which Faevel says a crew was busy removing over the weekend.

“There’s probably a couple hundred tractor trailer rigs of flood debris that stacked up on the other side of the river.”

Faevel says salvaged trees will be made available to the public for firewood at a later date.

Previous articleSmall dam on slough helps Big Delta man protect his home along Tanana River
Next articleSkagway official sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison
Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.