A $10 million renovation project is underway at Hoopes Reservoir in Greenville, and the clanking, banging and scraping on the giant dam can be heard clear across the Red Clay Creek valley.
The work will repair deteriorated concrete on the massive structure, restoring it to “like-new condition,” according to officials with the City of Wilmington, which owns the reservoir.
The Hoopes Dam Crest Restoration Project has a price tag of $9,738,488, to be precise, with construction targeted for completion by this September.
Hoopes Reservoir is a primary source of stored fresh water for the city and is the largest water storage facility in New Castle County. According to the Department of Public Works, about 40 percent of the Wilmington’s water customers are outside city limits.
The two-billion gallon reservoir north of Wilmington was built between 1925 and 1932, taking the name of Colonel Edgar M. Hoopes, Jr., a former chief engineer of the city’s water department. To construct the closest thing northern Delaware has to a lake, the city had to clear a one and three-quarter mile site, construct a 400-foot long dam and design and build a new pumping station and an underground force main tunnel to move water between the Brandywine River, a filter plant and the reservoir.
The area where the reservoir sits today was once known as the Old Mill Stream Valley, stretching 8000 feet long, 9000 feet wide and 135 feet deep. Protected by high hills except where the dam was built, the spot offered the ideal landscape for a new reservoir.
Some observers of the reservoir have made note of low water levels recently, but public works officials say normal levels have been restored. A spokesman with the city said reservoir levels are now at 87 feet, with 90 feet being an overflow level.
“The level was lowered to perform work on the upstream face. This part of the project is completed,” he said.
The city official noted that “the trees that are falling into the reservoir are due to the city raising the water level from 88 to 90 feet in 2007. When trees roots are fully submerged, the trees eventually die.”