Several High-Risk Oklahoma Dams Overdue For Inspection

Wednesday, May 20th 2015, 11:07 pm
By: News On 6

Ten percent of Oklahoma's high-risk dams are overdue for inspection, and with water levels rising, if a dam fails it could be dangerous for Green Country communities.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board monitors 4,700 dams, but it's up to the dam owners, often cities, to inspect them. Sadly, several are failing to do so.

The amount of water at the dam at Eufaula Lake is alarming. The water was up 12 feet before floodgates opened.

5/20/2015 Related Story: Keeping Up With Mother Nature An Around The Clock Job At Eufaula Dam

The Army Corps of Engineers owns this dam, and must inspect it every summer, according to Corps of Engineer Operations Project Manager, Jeff Knack.

"On top of that, we do a periodic inspection, which we bring a whole team of engineers in every five years to do a full evaluation of the structure as well," he said.

Eufaula Dam is considered high-hazard by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board; meaning if it fails, it will be deadly.

Any dam considered high-risk must have an emergency action plan and must be inspected each year.

Cole Perryman with the Water Resources Board said ten percent of Oklahoma dams are failing to do just that.

“Well over 90 percent of the dams are inspected annually, of the high-hazard dams, so just working to close that last gap," Perryman said.

News On 6 found at least half a dozen Green County dams are overdue for inspection and without an emergency action plan, according to the board.

Dam Inventory Of Oklahoma

"The dam owners are really responsible for bringing in the engineers to have their dams inspected," said Perryman.

The City of Sapulpa is an example of a dam owner trying to repair its dams.

Sahoma Lake Dam, last inspected in 2013, has been called a ticking time bomb, and the city is spending $1 million to fix it.

Mark Lawson, with A Better Sapulpa Committee, said, "The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has considered it a high-hazard dam, and if it were to breach, without a doubt, some serious loss of property and/or life."

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is keeping tabs on when dams are inspected, trying to get every dam up to par.