Newly-revealed documents indicate a commander at Fort Jackson may have been involved in decisions which led to a dam break and massive flood outside Columbia because he wanted higher water levels to improve his personal yard.
According to The State newspaper, a deposition in an ongoing lawsuit suggests the officer ordered more concrete put into the spillway at the Semmes Lake dam on the fort. The taller spillway increased the lake level by reducing how much water could flow out of it. The Fort Jackson Department of Public Works employee deposition does not name the officer.
The dam burst during unprecedented rainfall in October 2015. Dozens of homes were damaged downstream and two deaths were reported, although it’s unclear how much of that damage was specifically due to Semmes Lake.
The newspaper reports an Army Corps of Engineers study on the failure estimates the nearly 1,000-foot-long dam broke about 5:34 a.m. on Oct. 4th of 2015. The report stated Army leaders did not properly maintain the 1940s-era earthen dam before the storm.
The Army has made few comments during the ongoing lawsuits.