Seminar Focuses On Dam Emergency Plans

Belmont County’s emergency managers want residents and public officials to know more about the dams in their county.

A meeting about dam safety is scheduled from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday at the county Emergency Operations Center, 68329 Bannock Road, St. Clairsville. In addition to county officials, the meeting will be led by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil and Water Resources, which is responsible for the Ohio Dam Safety Program.

Becky Horne, spokeswoman for the county EMA, said there are public and privately owned dams in the county, some of which people may not even know about. She said the meeting is important for residents “in case they live nearby” a dam “so they can be in the know.”

The main purpose of the meeting is development of emergency action plans related to dam failures.

“Since failure of a dam can take only hours or minutes, it is imperative to have a detailed plan of action ready for use. Dam owners and local officials must be prepared to act promptly and effectively when a dam begins to show signs of failure.

Early identification of a hazardous situation may provide valuable additional time to warn and evacuate downstream residents and to implement measures to prevent or delay a dam failure,” said Mark Bruce, ODNR spokesman.

There are 19 dams in the county: Barnesville Lake Dam; Barnesville reservoir dams Nos. 1,2,3; Belmont Hills Country Club Lake Dam; Belmont Lake Dam; Meigs-Phillips I No. 1 Dam, Bannock; St. Clairsville Reservoir No. 2 Dam; Ohio Valley Coal Slurry Disposal Dam; Bethesda Reservoir Dam; R&F Lamira Freshwater Dam; R.E. Burger West Ash Pond Dam; Shadyside Wastewater Treatment Plant Levee; St. Clairsville Reservoir No. 1 Dam; Switzerland Lake Dam; Allison Mine Freshwater Dam; Bethesda Sportsman Club Pond Dam; Livezey Lake Dam; and Myers Pond Dam.

“The Dam Safety Engineering Program is happy to be of assistance to dam owners who have questions about the condition, or the safe operation of their dam. However, the owner is ultimately responsible for the condition of the dam and for maintaining its safe operating condition,” Bruce said.

The meeting’s agenda also includes: an overview of laws related to dam safety and dam classifications; how dams work, how they fail and impacts of failures; dam owners’ rules including liability, operation and maintenance; inspections and downstream developments and hazards; emergency action plans; and the roles of owners and officials during dam emergency situations.