Court date set for owners of maligned Woodlake Dam

VASS TOWNSHIP, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The owners of the maligned Woodlake Dam have been ordered to appear before a Moore County judge on March 13.

After months of reporting by the ABC11 I-Team, the Attorney General's Office finally filed a court injunction against the development's German ownership team after years of negligence led to the dam's demise.

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The injunction, filed January 27, asks the court to demand Woodlake LLC and its chair Illya Steiner either pay to fix the dam - or pay to break down the dam.

The move follows many months of inaction and ignorance of a state Dam Safety Order on the part of Steiner and the on-site manager at Woodlake, Julie Watson.

Geosyntec, an international firm with field offices in Raleigh, was originally hired by Steiner to work closely with state officials to fix the maligned dam that nearly failed during Hurricane Matthew. The heroic efforts of the National Guard to sandbag the dam and save hundreds of homes downstream was one of the lasting images from the historic storm.

The firm, however, cut ties with Woodlake in January. Documents obtained by the ABC11 I-Team show Steiner owed Geosyntec more than $270,000.

Now months after Hurricane Matthew, the dam remains broken, fully empowering the state to enforce its many dam safety orders and citations issued to Woodlake over the past several years.

The last DSO, issued on November 17, mandated that the Woodlake must have had its engineers begin work on a temporary breach of the dam begin by December 8th and be completed by December 31, 2016. Additionally, the DSO gave the dam owners 91 days from the order's issue for engineers to submit complete plans for the repair of the dam.

According to the DSO, had the conditions not been met, the owners would face fines of up to $500 a day.

A spokesperson for the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) told ABC11 that Woodlake was given five days from December 8 to provide a written response to the DEQ with an update on their plans and work.

That never happened.

Internal memos shown to the I-Team revealed even Geosyntec, had yet to hear from Woodlake owner Steiner or manager Watson.

The Woodlake owner and managers have ignored repeated requests for comment.

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