Owners and operators of reservoirs statewide should check their dams and take appropriate steps to safely lower the water levels today and through the next several days in preparation for potential problems caused by heavy rainfall from Hurricane Florence, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Hurricane force winds can topple trees causing large voids where trees are uprooted. Loss of soil from a dam can impact its structural integrity and can provide a path for water from the pond to exit in an uncontrolled manner. This condition may lead to failure.
“Owners of reservoirs with functional gates or flashboards should consider operating them to provide additional storage for the anticipated rainfall,” Jill Stewart, Director of DHEC’s Dam Safety and Stormwater Permitting Division said in a statement Monday. “If there is a dam downstream of your dam and you are lowering your water level, please call the owner of that dam to advise him or her about what you are doing. Before and after the storm has passed, any accumulated trash and debris should be cleared from spillways.”
DHEC also plans to utilize an emergency notification system as needed to automatically notify dam owners via voice call, text messages and email to take steps in preparation for the potential for impacts from Hurricane Florence.
“Staying alert for rising waters that may continue even after the rain has ended is important,” said Stewart. “Dam owners should be aware of the conditions at their dams during such events. If problems develop such that failure of the dam might be imminent, the owner or operator of the dam should contact local public safety officials, downstream property owners and DHEC Dam Safety Program staff at 803-898-1939.”