Response Planning

Preparing for the Unlikely Event of Dam Failure

What Is an Emergency Action Plan?

California Department of Water Resources (DWR) mandated Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) standardize the process dam owners across California use to monitor their dams.

EAPs include protocols for coordination with local, state, and federal public agencies during emergency situations that have the potential to lead to dam failure. Dam owners must plan for a worst-case scenario and develop a thorough plan.

  • Govern how the dam owner monitors the development of potentially unsafe conditions that could lead to dam failure
  • Structure the coordination between agencies and public communications necessary to ensure safe and orderly evacuation of areas downstream of dams if necessary
  • Prepare for the highly unlikely spontaneous and complete failure of a dam when its reservoir is full

How Is an Emergency Action Plan Created?

The EAP process requires dam owners such as FMFCD to educate the public on dam safety and how notifications will work during a potential or imminent dam emergency. The process involves working with public safety agencies to ensure all parties are prepared to handle a dam emergency.

The District works with local first responder agencies to define each agency’s role in dam emergency communications and response:
  • Fresno County Office of Emergency Services
  • Fresno County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Fresno Police Department
  • City of Fresno Fire Department
  • City of Clovis Police Department
  • City of Clovis Fire Department
  • CalFire (Fresno County Fire)

As a dam owner, FMFCD will conduct yearly planning and field exercises focused on hypothetical dam emergencies alongside local first responder agencies and services.

Who Is Required To Have an Emergency Action Plan?

Any California local government, utility, or other public or private owner of a dam that DWR classifies as significant, high, or extremely high hazard risk is required by law (Senate Bill 92, 2017) to prepare and maintain EAPs for each dam they own.

As explained by DWR, hazard classifications are tied to the population downstream of the dam “based solely on potential downstream impacts to life and property should the dam fail when operating with a full reservoir. The hazard classification is unrelated to the dam’s condition or its appurtenant structures. The definitions for downstream hazards are borrowed from the Federal Guidelines for Inundation Mapping of Flood Risks Associated with Dam Incidents and Failures.” —FEMA P-946, July 2013

Safety Plan
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Hazard Classification
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