Dam Failure Report Shows Areas for Improvement, Enumclaw Senior Center Van, News, and More

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Councilman Dunn Banner

E Newsletter- Your Update on What's Happening at the King County Council   

Investigation on dam safety revealed problems, solutions

Working towards better emergency preparedness for King County residents who live in  floodplains. 

The safety of thousands of King County families who live in the shadow of dams is an issue I take seriously. After watching the concerning situation at the Oroville Dam in California, I knew we had to take action. Watching the flooding in Houston has only added to the urgency.

In February, as Chair of the King County Flood Control District, I called for a systematic review of the emergency plans for each dam in King County, as well as the preparations of our county emergency shelters. Recently the initial King County Dam Safety Emergency Planning Gap Analysis Report was released and found some serious concerns, including:

  • The emergency action plans and inundation maps for too many dams are out-of-date
  • Only three of 60 dams had completed required, twice-a-decade drills
  • There is a lack of communication and coordination between dam operators and emergency planners

These are fixable problems. Because of the investigation, we have a much clearer picture of what needs to change to better protect county residents. I will work with my colleagues to address these issues raised in the report. 

I don’t want to be alarmist – the probability of a major dam failure is low. But it is a serious issue, and we know that extreme weather events can cause unanticipated system breakdowns. We need to be ready to move people out of danger if the worst happens.

I’m proud the county is taking concrete steps to improve safety and protect residents. 

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