US Army Corps of Engineers
Nashville District Website

Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project

FACT SHEET (As of June 2018)

Published Nov. 20, 2012
This is an aerial image of Center Hill Lake and Dam, Lancaster, Tenn.(USACE photo)

This is an aerial image of Center Hill Lake and Dam, Lancaster, Tenn.(USACE photo)

 Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project



AUTHORIZATION: Flood Control Act approved on June 28, 1938, (PL 75-761).


TYPE OF PROJECT: Dam Safety – Major Rehabilitation


PROJECT PHASE: Construction


LOCATION: Dekalb County, TN near Lancaster, TN


CONGRESSIONAL INTEREST: Black (TN-06), DesJarlais (TN-04), Alexander (TN), Corker (TN)


NON-FEDERAL SPONSOR: Hydropower users through the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA), and three Water Supply users: City of Cookeville, TN; Smithville, TN; and DeKalb County, TN


BACKGROUND: The construction of Center Hill Dam was completed in 1948 on the Caney Fork River, a tributary to the Cumberland River.  Hydropower works were functional in 1951.  The Dam and Center Hill Lake provide valuable flood damage reduction, hydropower, water supply, recreation, and water quality benefits to the region. The combination earthen and concrete dam is 1,400’ long and a maximum of 248’ high and contains the Nashville District’s second largest flood control reservoir.  A 125’ high earthen auxiliary dam referred to as the “saddle dam” fills a low area along the right rim. The earthen main dam and saddle dam were built on highly solutioned limestone with open and clay-filled features.  The earthen embankments of the Main and Auxiliary Dams are the primary focus of the ongoing Dam Safety Project.  During the time of construction, designers had limited understanding of adequate earthen dam foundation preparation techniques in karst geology.  Foundation seepage problems have plagued the project for many years. Indicators of serious seepage through the foundations of the main dam and saddle dam included abnormal piezometer levels, wet areas and springs.  The Dam is ranked in Dam Safety Action Classification 2, a high priority for dam remediation in the Corps.  An approved 2006 Major Rehab study recommended foundation concrete cutoff walls along the entire length of the main dam and saddle dam and grouting of the rims.  Initial construction work elements began in 2008, preliminary grouting was completed in late 2010 and a main dam concrete barrier wall installed from 2012 to 2015.  The saddle dam repair is the major remaining construction contract and is estimated to be completed in 2019. A concrete reinforcing berm downstream of the saddle dam is being constructed of roller compacted concrete (RCC).  RCC is a cheaper, faster method of placing large amounts of concrete and is widely used worldwide for structures like the one being built at Center Hill.  Site restoration elements are underway concurrently.  Rebuilding a lake access and ramp just upstream of the dam, originally known as Eisenhower Park or Center Hill Park, is included in the scope of the restoration work.  The total project cost is approximately $353M.   

IMPORTANCE: The work will reduce risk of dam failure, improve the long-term reliability of the dam, and fully restore project benefits.  


STATUS: Three major construction contracts comprise the rehabilitation.  The grouting contract was completed 2008-2010; the Main Dam barrier wall was awarded was built 2012-2015.  The final contract, Saddle Dam Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Reinforcing Berm and Left Rim Stabilization, is underway and completion is estimated in late 2019. 


BUDGET ($): Estimated project costs are shown next.


Total Estimated Cost


Federal Cost Estimate


Non-Federal Cost Estimate




Federal Funds Data


Allocation thru FY 2018


Balance to Complete


The project is federally funded upfront.  Cost sharing reimbursement after construction is in accordance with the percent of the lake storage allocated for each specific purpose.  Water Supply and Hydropower customers provide their share of costs after construction.

For more information regarding the Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation, contact Linda Adcock, CELRN-PM-MD, phone: (615) 736-7838 or email

Release no.