Legislation calling for emergency action plans for dams across Kentucky advances to Senate floor
Kentucky has about a thousand state-regulated dams in waterways all over the Commonwealth. Legislation requiring dam owners to develop an action plan in case of a catastrophic failure is headed to the Senate floor. While voting yes, Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee Chair Brandon Smith said he hoped it wouldn’t create too much of a hardship for structurally sound dams.
“So I just wanted to make sure that we don’t put it to where, through some action here, that we end up taking out these wildlife areas that have just really become part of the migratory process. We see a lot of bird and stuff coming in there now for us. You see a lot of elk utilizing them,” said Smith.
The measure pertains to dams at least 25 feet in height which impound 50-acre feet of water. State Division of Water Director Carey Johnson said two or three dam-related emergencies occur each year. He noted the state has not seen a catastrophic failure in recent memory. Johnson added the possibility of more flooding events creates the need for these emergency action plans.
“Dams, you know, they’re a system, they discharge, right? So, if rainfall happens slower the dam has a little bit of ability to catch up there. When you have a sudden downburst, that’s when things can get really bad,” said Johnson
Johnson said the Commonwealth has about 175 high-hazard dams. Department for Environmental Protection Commissioner Tony Hatton told the committee high hazard doesn’t mean there are structural problems just that a large number of people live near them.
Here's more with Division of Water Director Carey Johnson: