“Failing dams were tragic this week for many Richland County residents. Hundreds of homes suffered major water damage or were destroyed, and several motorists were trapped below failing dams when their cars were swept away by raging waters. Bridges on major thoroughfares such as the Devine Street corridor were closed.”
“Until this week, many people assumed that water network was safe.”
“Knapp said he was puzzled that no warning system was in place to alert people to dam breakages. He lives in a Forest Drive neighborhood adjacent to Gills Creek where it flows by Trenholm Plaza. He woke Sunday morning to see a river flowing across Forest Drive and was surprised that there had been no warning.”
Source: EmergencyManagement.com “Flood, Rains Expose SC’s Flawed Dam Safety Program”.
Here are the Real Dangers Associated with Our Dams.
The article by Emergency Management, “Floods, Rain Expose SC’s Flawed Dam Safety Program”, uncovered South Carolina’s under-funded and under-manned Dam Safety Program. As bad of a picture that was painted in this article – the real picture is actually worse and is a major problem, not only for South Carolina – but also for the whole country.
In 2013 the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the dams in the United States an overall grade of “D”.
Now don’t get me wrong, Dams are very important structures that have been around for thousands of years. Dams are used;
- To create reservoirs for our drinking water supply
- To redirect water to irrigate farm lands
- To control flooding
- Are used to ensure that river levels are maintained to help boats and barges navigate the rivers to deliver our goods.
Needless to say – they are very important to society and any modern civilization.
However, the dams in the United States have been neglected for many years; both from an inspection stand point and from a maintenance point. There are several theories behind this lack of monitoring dams and you can read more about by clicking on this link: https://practicaldisasterplanning.com/facts-about-dams
But the real danger behind dams is that the actual structural quality reports of the dams are not made available to the public. You cannot call your local governmental office and ask;
- How safe is the dam in my neighborhood?
- What are the chances that it may breech?
- Where can I find the inspection report for the dam?
This information is controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is only released to select government officials.
Now you can contact your state’s dam safety officials and they will give you “Hazzard Classification” which has a ranking of: Low, Significant, or High. This ranking system has nothing to do with the structural integrity of the dam. What this rank gives you is; the “downstream potential hazard” if the dam does breech.
Read: After the dam breeches – what type of damage you can expect to the property downstream from the dam.
If you want to learn more about dams, the dangers associated with them, how to determine your risk level of a dam, and what you can do to protect yourself form the dangers associated with a dam breech, please visit our page on DAMS.