DHEC urging Dam owners to take safety precautions ahead of Hurricane Michael

COLUMBIA, SC WOLO)– Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental control are telling owners and operators of reservoirs statewide to check their dams and take appropriate steps to safely lower the water levels.
DHEC says the water levels should be lowered through the next several days in preparation for potential impact from Hurricane Michael.

Officials say soils are very saturated from the extensive rainfall from Hurricane Florence.   This has the potential to increase the runoff to South Carolina’s ponds and lakes.

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 un-controlled manner. This condition may lead to failure, say officials.

Owners of reservoirs with functional gates or flashboards should consider operating them to provide additional storage for the anticipated rainfall,” said Jill Stewart, Director of DHEC’s Dam Safety and Stormwater Permitting Division. “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 is using its emergency notification system to automatically notify dam owners via voice call, text messages and email to take steps in preparation for the potential for impacts from Hurricane Michael.
“Dam owners should be aware of the conditions at their dams during such events,” Stewart said. “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.”
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