By John Prettyman
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Suspended by ropes 150 feet in the air, Chris Abela, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, slowly lowers himself along a large flood gate at the Corps' New Hogan Dam, near Valley Springs April 10, 2012.
Abela is a member of a special climb team that inspects hard-to-reach places on dams and other concrete and steel structures. The team inspected the New Hogan Dam tainter gates, a type of floodgate used to control water flow.
"We're able to identify problems with the gates and other civil works structures very early on and correct those problems to make sure we provide safety for everybody downstream," said Abela.
The Sacramento District's climb team is one of only three Corps climb teams throughout the country. They routinely inspect dams by climbing them to identify possible deficiencies and needed repairs.
Like all infrastructure in the U.S., dams require continual inspection and maintenance to ensure their reliable operation, public safety and benefit to the community.
New Hogan Dam is 210 feet high, 1,960 feet wide and reduces flood risk to the city of Stockton. It also stores water used for irrigation, drinking and hydroelectric power. When full, the lake behind the dam covers 50 miles of shoreline and extends nearly eight miles upstream providing essential habitat for wildlife and year-round recreational opportunities for the public.