The Joe's Valley Dam in Emery County is undergoing a major subsurface investigation to determine if water seepage around the dam's abutments poses any long-term risk to the structure.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is spending up to $100,000 for the study, which is scheduled for completion some time in October.Engineers say the dam is structurally sound and considered safe. The current study is focusing on long-term concerns.

A landslide that occurred below the dam two years ago has raised some concern. Landslides of this nature are symptomatic of a potential problem of reservoir-seepage water moving around the dam abutments.

The bureau is drilling between six and eight test holes in the abutments to monitor the seepage during next spring's filling cycle. Conclusions concerning the extent of the seepage problem and possible corrective actions will be made once the cycle is completed.

Joe's Valley Dam is the key feature of the Emery County Project built in central Utah in the 1960s. The 192-foot-high earth-fill dam was completed in 1966. It provides regulation of Seely Creek, a major tributary of Cottonwood Creek. The reservoir has a total capacity of about 62,000 acre feet.