Congressman Rick Crawford toured Greers Ferry Dam on Monday
Congressman Rick Crawford was in the Greers Ferry Lake area on Monday and visited the Greers Ferry Dam that afternoon. Power Plant Senior Electrician Edward Fatherly, along with others from the dam, took Crawford on a guided tour through the structure, his first ever inside a working dam.
One the tour, Crawford was able to see the inner workings of a structure celebrating its 50th anniversary, which he and his staff also learned is running on equipment that is also 50 years old. Many of the dam functions are handled remotely, due to computer upgrades in 1987, which also resulted in the reduction of dam staff to operate the structure.
Fatherly also showed Crawford one of the visible leaks that can be seen outside of the dam. The cost of fixing the leaks is estimated at approximately $1 million. Crawford asked if that cost could come out of the approximately $7 million annual revenue, but was told that the dam sees none of that money as it goes directly to the U.S. Treasury. They also informed Crawford that, at this point, these leaks are not critical and the Corps of Engineers is currently experiencing a $80 million backlog of maintenance requests in area project offices, so these leaks are not at a point where they are at the top of the priority maintenance list.
Due to security concerns put in place after 9/11, we were unable to take photos inside the facility
“I’m pretty impressed that this structure is still working at the efficiency that it has,” said Crawford when asked his impressions of the dam. “It doesn’t look fifty years old. I think sometimes that’s a bit of problem when things are that old and they work so well and are maintained so well. It’s sort of hard to see any problems with it. It’s working great. Sometimes some of the older stuff works better than the new.”
Crawford was also asked about how we could potentially reverse the decline in Greers Ferry Lake tourism over the past decades.
“Arkansas is one of the best kept secrets in the country,” said Crawford. “We can certainly market ourselves a bit more aggressively. There are stories that need to be told to a broader audience. Sometimes I think we tend to market to ourselves a little more and leave other markets out, for example Memphis or St. Louis or Dallas.”
“Tourism has a huge economic impact in the State of Arkansas,” continued Crawford. “It accounts for well over 50,000 jobs and upwards of a billion dollars in economic impact so it’s important for us to shine a light on the national treasures we have.”