News Icon

News: USACE Galveston District’s dam safety mission highlighted on National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Story by Sandra ArnoldSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

Barker Dam Sandra Arnold

More than a half century ago, in response to devastating floods that occurred in Houston in 1929 and 1935, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Addicks and Barker dams in what was then undeveloped areas in far west Harris and east Fort Bend counties. This undertaking was a milestone in a longstanding partnership between the USACE and the greater Houston community. Addicks and Barker dams are located near the intersection of I-10 and State Highway 6, in an area considered to be in the upper watershed of Buffalo Bayou. They provide flood damage reduction along Buffalo Bayou downstream of the reservoirs and through the center of the City of Houston. But like much of our national infrastructure, Addicks and Barker have been around a long time. The USACE continually inspects all of its dams nationwide under its Dam Safety Program, a program that shows our commitment to protecting lives, property and the environment by ensuring that all dams are designed, constructed, operated and maintained as safely and effectively as is possible. The USACE Dam Safety Program provides a framework to ensure that both short and long term solutions are studied and applied, and helps to ensure public safety for our local communities.

GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District will join the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in recognizing May 31 as National Dam Safety Awareness Day.

“Today marks the 124th anniversary of the worst dam disaster in United States history - the South Fork Dam failure in Johnstown, Pa., which resulted in the deaths of 2,209 people and left thousands homeless,” said Col. Christopher Sallese, USACE Galveston District commander. “As the commander of a district with two dams identified as ‘extremely high risk,’ it’s imperative that we continue to communicate risks associated with dams so that the public is aware of and understands the risks associated with dams.”

In response to devastating floods that occurred in Houston in 1929 and 1935, the USACE Galveston District began construction of Addicks and Barker dams in what was then undeveloped areas in far west Harris and east Fort Bend counties to prevent the loss of life and property and provide flood damage reduction along Buffalo Bayou downstream of the reservoirs and through the center of the City of Houston. Construction of the Addicks and Barker structures were completed in 1948 and 1945 respectively.

According to Dam Safety Officer Robert Howell, USACE Galveston District, the Corps began a risk assessment on all Corps-owned dams nationwide in 2005. The potential failure mode analyses on the Addicks and Barker dams (completed in 2009) identified unacceptable risks associated with the outlets work structures at the dams and with the auxiliary spillways at the ends of the dams. The risks associated with these concerns combined with the potential consequences to the Houston metropolitan area (should there be a failure), elevated the classification of Addicks and Barker dams’ classification to extremely high risk.

“Having Addicks and Barker dams designated as extremely high risk is a significant step toward increasing their safety because they will receive priority for funding and repair,” said Howell. “The Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Modification Report, which will provide the recommended plan to minimize the risk of significant failure, is currently under review and is scheduled to be approved this summer.”

The Addicks and Barker dams have served the Houston metropolitan area for more than 60 years, saving taxpayers an estimated $6.4 billion (2012) in potential flood prevention. With risk reduction measures implemented and proposed long-term measures planned for the future, it is expected that the dams will continue to serve the City of Houston for several decades to come.

With all dams presenting risk potential, Howell reminds residents that it is important to know the risks associated with potential dam incidents and failures and recommends residents review a new guide entitled “Living With Dams: Know Your Risks,” located on the ASDSO website at http://www.damsafety.org/. The guide covers topics ranging from an explanation of the potential risks associated with dams to providing tips for preparing for an emergency.

"We all have an important role to play in creating a future where all dams are safe, and this guide answers important questions about why people should care about dams and what they should do if they live near a dam," said ASDSO executive director Lori Spragens.

For more information about the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and dams visit www.addicksandbarker.info or learn more about dam safety at http://www.damsafety.org/. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEGalveston.


Connected Media
ImagesBarker Dam
More than a half century ago, in response to devastating...


Web Views
81
Downloads
0

Podcast Hits
0



Public Domain Mark
This work, USACE Galveston District’s dam safety mission highlighted on National Dam Safety Awareness Day, by Sandra Arnold, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:05.31.2013

Date Posted:05.31.2013 09:45

Location:GALVESTON, TX, USGlobe

Options

  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

SELECT A HOLIDAY:

VIDEO ON DEMAND

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr