LAKENGREN — Several local leadership and emergency officials gathered in Gasper Fire Department to go over the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the Lake Lakengren Dam on Monday, June 8.
Kevin Thorp, Lakengren General Manager, led the meeting and went over the action plan for all those in attendance.
The older a dam gets, the bigger the risk of break is, said Thorp. Although he also noted that while Lakengren’s dam is 46 years old, it is well made because it uses Preble County clay.
The flow chart of notification on who to call also goes through Thorp as well as Gary Ketron, the dam committee chairman. Once notified, the two will evaluate the issue.
“You know how people can blow things out of proportion. We just want to make sure that it is what it is before we enact something,” said Thorp.
He also went over some numbers presented in the EAP, including that the total storage capacity at crest level is 5,460 acre-feet while the storage capacity at normal pool elevation is 3,103 acre-feet. The dam also contains a spillway that is 300 feet and is 10 feet wide.
The length of the crest is 2,300 feet with a downstream slope of 2.5.
The Lakengren dam is classified as class I based on it’s height, storage volume, and hazard classification. If the dam fails, there is a potential for loss of human life as well as several communities, roads, and bridges that will be affected.
The EAP summarizes 12 areas that are at high risk in case of dam failure, with the first area listed as the property next to Paint Creek that is downstream of the dam. Camden and Somerville also are on the list while several roads – Paint Creek Road, Longman Road, Camden Sugar Valley Road, Paint Creek Four Mile Road, Gasper-Somers Road, State Highway 725, U.S. Highway 127, County Highway 24, and County Highway 227 – are also at risk.
Certain emergency classification levels were also discussed, the first being a non-failure emergency (such as a new area of seepage without significant flow), the second being standby alert (lake level rising within 2.4 feet of the dam crest and continuing to rise) or evacuation conditions (dam is overtopping, the lake level is rising within six inches of the dam crest and continuing to rise while additional rain is predicted). The plan of action for the standby alert and evacuation conditions should be to implement the emergency notification procedure.
Thorp said that each spring he updates the call down list of the people that are downstream and has the plans posted in both the office and guard shack at Lakengren.
He also spoke briefly about the damage tree roots can cause as the roots seek water. If the tree rots and dies, it creates a hole. Planting or growing trees on the dam is no longer allowed and all the trees on the Lakengren dam have been removed.
“So far we’ve been pretty fortunate. The dam is in good shape,” he said.