Irma

Hurricane Irma approaches Puerto Rico.

NOAA.gov

COLUMBIA -- Owners and operators of reservoirs statewide should check their dams and take appropriate steps to safely lower the water levels Thursday and through the next several days in preparation for potential problems caused by heavy rainfall from Hurricane Irma, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Hurricane-force winds can topple trees, causing large voids where trees are uprooted. Loss of soil from a dam can impact its structural integrity and can provide a path for water from the pond to exit in an uncontrolled manner. This condition may lead to failure.

"Owners of reservoirs with functional gates or flashboards should consider operating them to provide additional storage for the anticipated rainfall," said Jill Stewart, director of DHEC's Dam Safety and Stormwater Permitting Division. "If there is a dam downstream of your dam and you are lowering your water level, please call the owner of that dam to advise him or her about what you are doing. Before and after the storm has passed, any accumulated trash and debris should be cleared from spillways."

DHEC also plans to utilize an emergency notification system as needed to automatically notify dam owners via voice call, text messages and email to take steps in preparation for the potential for impacts from Hurricane Irma.

"Dam owners should be aware of the conditions at their dams during such events," Stewart said. "If problems develop such that failure of the dam might be imminent, the owner or operator of the dam should contact local public safety officials, downstream property owners and DHEC Dam Safety Program staff at 803-898-1939."

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