NC’s hair-raising dam safety issues not being addressed

When the levee breaks, I’ll have no place to stay:

To help local and state official save lives in the event of a breach, the N.C. General Assembly included a provision in the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 requiring some dam owners to file emergency actions plans (EAPs) with the state. The plans use modeling software to help decision makers understand where water will flow should the dam breach and when to warn or evacuate homeowners who, like Fraser, often don’t know a dam is nearby.

Now, more than a year after those plans were required to be in place, 1,309 of the 2,011 dams that are supposed to have them don’t. Only dams defined as high-hazard or intermediate-hazard potential — designations based on the threat and property should the dam fail — are required to have completed documents. In counties east of or contiguous to Interstate 95, 160 of the 217 dams supposed to have an EAP do not. The 73.7 percent lacking plans in eastern North Carolina is slightly outpacing the state’s 60.6 percent.

Bolding mine. As is often the case when stories like this break, there’s a handy expert standing by to tell us there’s really nothing to worry about. And yet, not a rainy season goes by where several dams nationwide don’t lose structural integrity and fail, and North Carolina has had its share. These emergency action plans do more than tell us what we should do in case of a failure, they help us figure out what other infrastructure needs we have by modeling the flow of flood waters in the event of a dam failure. And the fact we’re still below 40% compliance is outrageous. A monumental failure to serve the people, that *will* result in the loss of life and property if not rectified.



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