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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Truth or Scare? Newspaper "Guest Commentary" Story Warns of Upper Missouri River Dam Failures

Just finished reading an article in the ST. LOUIS (MO) POST-DISPATCH online written by a Bernard Shanks regarding the 2011 Missouri River flood and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is not completely honest about a worse-case scenario.

Bear in mind- the USACE DID prepare the reservoirs for an above-average snowfall in the Missouri's source regions.

What the Corps COULDN'T have prepared for are torrential- record-amount rainfalls that fell over Montana in May- THAT'S the issue with the high water releases.

Mr. Shanks' 'cornerstone of fear' is the Fort Peck dam in eastern Montana.

Mr. Shanks contention is that the Fort Peck dam is "built with a flawed design" inherent in the types of dams such as Fort Peck's.

Those types of dams are known as "hydraulic-fill" dams- or built with several types of compacted Earth. 

The author contends- correctly- that those types of dams are subject to liquefaction of the soils within the dam's structure- and that happens mainly with earthquakes.

Eastern Montana is not in a known earthquake zone however.

It's doubtful too that even a full reservoir over time would contribute to a dam failure of that sort.

In addition- there are similarily built dams in the Central States- dams such as down in the Table Rock area around Branson and Truman Lake dam have been under the stress of full- even overflowing flood pools- yet the dams remained viable.

The Longview and Blue Springs Lakes dams are also hydraulic-fill dams.

I'm sure Bernard Shanks is a quite-educated man- I'm only a layman hydrologist and meteorologist- but with 50 years of book and practical experience.

And UNTIL a hole appears in one of the upstream USACE Pick-Sloan dams- I'm not going to needlessly frighten the American people downstream.

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