Dam Safety Awareness Day Marked In Montgomery County | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Dam Safety Awareness Day Marked In Montgomery County

Play associated audio
At the Lake Needwood Dam, the yellow line shows how high the water after persistent raining in 2006.
Matt Bush
At the Lake Needwood Dam, the yellow line shows how high the water after persistent raining in 2006.

Thursday is National Dam Safety Awareness Day, and federal officials didn't have to stray far from D.C. for an example of how dangerous dam breaches can be.

On this day in 1889, the worst dam failure in United States history occurred when the South Fork Dam in Cambria County, Pennsylvania gave way. As many as 2,200 people perished in what's remembered as the Johnstown Flood. Since then, the federal government has been more active in dam safety, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency says there is still a long way to go.

Federal officials touted their new efforts today at the Lake Needwood Dam in Rockville. Six years ago, several consecutive days of heavy rain caused leaks in the earthen dam. More than 2,000 people in the immediate area were evacuated.

"The water was coming through the rock underneath the dam," says Mike Riley, the dam's engineer of record at the time. "And while that's not good, that's better than it coming through the dam, because the rock is more stable and less likely to deteriorate."

Cement was poured into the fractures in those rocks to prevent future leaks. Riley is confident that will hold up to future storms, though he admits in the last six years there have not been storms severe enough to test the dam.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, May 27, 2015

Life is hard, confusing, funny and devastating. You can see two plays that focus on characters who are just trying to figure things out.

NPR

How Dorothea Lange Taught Us To See Hunger And Humanity

Perhaps no one did more to show us the human toll of the Great Depression than Lange, who was born on this day in 1895. Her photos of farm workers and others have become iconic of the era.
NPR

Santorum Hopes To Catch Lightning In A Bottle A Second Time

The former Pennsylvania senator, who won Iowa in 2012, hopes he can do it again. But with a more crowded field, he might find it difficult to stand out.
NPR

How Will The Next President Protect Our Digital Lives?

For the first time in a White House race, the candidates will need a game plan for cyber policy for Day 1 in the Oval Office and will have some tough choices to make.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.