Upstream Flood Control Dams Survive Record Oklahoma EarthquakeThu, 10 Nov 2011 08:43:08 CST
After a 4 day period that saw several earthquakes hit Oklahoma, including the largest in state history, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission can report that the Sooner State's flood control dams survived the tremors with no significant visible damage.
"With over 36 high hazard dams within 50 miles of the epicenter of the quake that hit Saturday and a reduced staff due to tight budgets, it took us some time to evaluate the system, but we can now say the structures came through the tremors without significant visible damage" said Mike Thralls, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. "The dams seem to have come through the earthquake just fine."
On Saturday, November 5, Oklahoma was hit by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, the largest trembler in Oklahoma history. Immediately after the quake hit, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission in cooperation with Local Conservation Districts and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) went into action to evaluate any potential damage to the flood control dams in the immediate area of the record setting earthquake. Within 48 hours a cursory inspection had determined that no damage had occurred to the high hazard structures within the area closest to the heart of the quake. Over the course of the next 48 hours, additional inspections were conducted on other structures to determine if the earthquake had any negative impact on them. According to Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), this recent event again shows the importance of adequately funding conservation in Oklahoma.
"With the tight budgets we have been facing at the state, local and federal levels these last few years, we are struggling to make sure we have the staff and funding necessary to maintain the integrity of our flood control system," Pope said. "Luckily we seem to have suffered no significant damage due to these last earthquakes. This event shows however, that it is extremely important that we keep the system of Conservation Districts and the staffing at the Conservation Commission funded at the level sufficient to maintain and operate these structures because you never know what kind of challenge will come next. It might even be a record earthquake in Oklahoma."
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