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Emergency planning & response

A completed emergency action plan is a valuable resource during an unusual event or emergency. It will help dam owners act quickly and strategically and help reduce the risk of injury, loss of life, and property damage.

Owners of dams classified as "high hazard" and "significant hazard" are legally required to have emergency action plans in place, but all dam owners should have plans for emergency situations. These plans are important because if an emergency situation arises, dam owners do not want to be scrambling to figure out what to do.

In the event of an emergency

Anyone witnessing a dam failure or imminent failure should call 911 and clearly state this is a dam safety emergency.

If you are a dam owner or operator, activate your emergency action plan, which should include: In the event that lives, property, or the environment could be at risk, our engineers are available to help implement response procedures at the dam.

Other emergency response partners include:

Developing an emergency action plan

An emergency action plan is a formal but simple plan that identifies potential emergency conditions that could occur at a dam, and prescribes procedures to follow to minimize loss of life and the potential for property damage.

Ideally, a dam's design, construction, operation, maintenance, and inspection are all intended to minimize the risk of failure. Despite the adequacy of these programs, unique situations sometimes develop that may result in dam failure. Dam owners need to develop and maintain a plan so emergency measures can be initiated that could prevent or minimize the consequences to life and property.

In addition, dam owners should be prepared by:

  • Making a list of those who need to know if the dam is in distress.
  • Taking preventive action.
  • Knowing their resources.