The Truth About Failed and Badly Maintained Dams

Failure of dams have been imminent, and it has already started happening. In October 2015, one dam out every fifty failed in South Carolina alone. The failure is considered the second highest environment disaster ever seen in the history of South Carolina and cost the state $12 billion in damages. Apart from this, it is estimated that over 60 people lost their lives due to the horrific event. Not everyone has recovered from this damage entirely, but they had to prepare themselves for another similar catastrophe, just a year apart. In 2016, North and South Carolina had to deal with Hurricane Matthew which caused over 20 dams to fail or completely fall apart unexpectedly.  Apart from monetary and infrastructure losses, it is estimated that several people died due to these terrible issues.

Failure of Dams and The Reasoning Behind It

Dams are not easy to build and improving or repairing them can be challenging, regarding labor and the costs. If all the dams of United States were to be rehabilitated, it would cost approximately $70 billion. Smaller dams labeled as ‘low hazard’ aren’t looked after. However, small dams still pose a threat. Failing to maintain these dams can cause damages to nearby surroundings due to down streaming. Nonetheless, only the environment is not be blamed for the failure of the dams. Some dams have become picnic spots and places for leisure as fishing, swimming, paddling and sunbathing can be seen carried out by people. The following can cause dams to fail.

  • Incompetent design of spillway
  • A blockage caused by debris
  • Old design and technology
  • Global warming causing a change in weather patterns
  • Internal erosion

Poor maintenance

Offices which are assigned the task of handling matters conserving reservoirs are underfunded. The lack of funds could be the reason why the staff tends to focus only on the larger dams, because of fewer hands on deck hence overlooking the smaller dams, avoiding regular maintenance cycles and increasing the risk which ultimately grows and becomes a safety concern. Lastly, the vast, strong concrete walls of the dam help to hold the water. Concrete eventually starts breaking, which is accelerated by the fast flowing water and water that sometimes carries debris.

Can the Problem at Hand Be Dealt With?

Like all problems, this problem can be solved too. The most effective way is to remove all obsolete dams, hence eliminating the cost of maintenance and the danger of the flooding. Regular inspections to ensure they are looked after. The condition of the dam worsens, If not appropriately maintained, endangering their surroundings and clogging the rivers. The problem of the dams can also be solved by bringing on federal board agencies so they can play their part to remove obsolete dams efficiently without breaking the bank. Lastly, to avoid future hazards the removal of outdated infrastructure is necessary. This problem at hand needs to be dealt with immediately as we cannot endanger any more lives.