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Dam Safety

Success Stories

OWRB Strives to Provide Breach Inundation Maps for all High Hazard Dams

From 2010-2013, the OWRB Dam Safety program received financial support from FEMA that enabled them to create over 25 breach inundation maps for high hazard dams in Oklahoma. An inundation map is an integral piece of an effective Emergency Action Plan that assists in determining which areas should be evacuated in the event of a dam failure. An inundation map shows the extent of the possible flooding that could occur if the dam fails, and calls special attention to the structures - including homes, businesses, and high-traffic roadways - that may be inundated in the flood.

The OWRB Dam Safety Program intends to provide another 10 breach inundation maps by the end of 2014.

Aging Neighborhood Dam Gets New Look, New Life: Cooperation Leads to Spectacular Success and a Model for Projects to Come

In November 2011, OWRB Dam Safety staff visited Norman, Oklahoma for the final inspection of the Hall Park Lake dam rehabilitation project. Also on hand were representatives from the City of Norman, neighborhood residents, and engineers who designed the 500-foot-long, sod-covered dam and spillway structure.

Located near the intersection of Robinson Ave. and 24th Ave. NE, this dam like hundreds of others in the state was well older than the age for which it was designed to function, and was potentially hazardous to residents living below it. The spillway structure was no longer adequate and vegetation including large trees was growing uncontrolled all along the dam. Large trees, no matter how beautiful are not desirable on a dam as their root systems can, as opposed to strengthening it, weaken an earthen embankment and provide paths for water to escape from a lake through piping.

A plan was developed to restore the dam into safe operating condition. Engineers worked closely with city officials and neighborhood residents to create the best possible design solution for everyone concerned. Men and massive machines were brought in to remove trees and brush and strengthen the dam. Drains were installed, a unique wide spillway was added, and the earthen embankment was covered in fast-growing bermuda to prevent erosion.

The finished project represents not only a huge engineering accomplishment but also an accomplishment of cooperation among those that worked together to turn the long-neglected neighborhood lake dam into a phenomenal new structure sure to stand strong for decades to come.

Hall Park Dam in Norman, OK
(L to R) before, during and at completion of the reconstruction project.

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