More than a thousand NC dams 'high hazard' if breached
Pummeling rains this week in Cumberland County have led to renewed concerns about dams in North Carolina, some of which date to the 18th century - older than our country.
Currently, Cumberland County Emergency Services is working with the City of Fayetteville, Public Works Commission and the North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality to monitor dams in the county affected by flooding and high water.
HOW RELIABLE ARE THESE CUMBERLAND COUNTY DAMS?
Among the dams on notice:
- Arran Lake Dam in the area of Bunce Road and Maykirk Drive, is being monitored for high water. No evacuations have been issued.
- Long Valley Farm Lake Dam at Carvers Creek State Park has breached and approximately 50 residents in the area of Collingwood Street have been notified by telephone alerts from Emergency Services and door-to-door alerts by Spring Lake firefighters.
- Rhodes Pond Dam in northern Cumberland County is experiencing floodwaters over the top of the dam along U.S. 301 Highway. Three residents affected have been notified by telephone alerts from Emergency Services and Godwin-Falcon volunteer firefighters.
- Lake Upchurch Dam in the Hope Mills/Parkton area is being monitored for high water. No evacuations have been issued.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY RESIDENTS DEAL WITH FLOODED HOMES
The Army Corps of Engineers counts 3,262 dams in North Carolina, and 1,210 of those are considered "high hazard potential," meaning any breaches could affect many people. In Cumberland County alone the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) monitors 113 dams, including 52 considered "high risk." An ABC11 I-Team review showed the dams are an average of 71 years old.
Officials at the DEQ confirm the state visits high hazard dams for inspections at least once a year, and they encourage residents to play a role in the dam's maintenance. If residents have any questions or concerns about their dam, DEQ engineers are eager to answer those calls at (919) 707-9220.
Ultimately, the responsibility to maintain the dams belongs to the local towns and cities, which is only advised of recommendations from the DEQ. If the DEQ inspectors recommend repairs, thus, the local governments must budget accordingly. It's also up to the local governments to facilitate emergency action plans in case of dam breaches.
There are a number of resources available to learn more about dams, emergency plans and dam maintenance.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DAM SAFETY AT NCDEQ
READ MORE: COMPLETE NORTH CAROLINA DAM INVENTORY (.PDF)
ASSOCIATION OF DAM SAFETY OFFICIALS