Dam Owner Responsibilities
Getting Help with an EAP
There are many resources available to dam owners to help them pull together the extensive information required for a thorough EAP.
Many dam owners have begun the process of completing their Emergency Action Plans by attending one of more than a dozen workshops for dam owners, dam engineers and consultants that have been held throughout Texas. These workshops cover how to complete an EAP as well as how to maintain dams and spillways. To learn more about the workshops, schedules, and EAP guidelines, contact the Texas Dam Safety Program office. Warren Samuelson is manager of the Program:
Warren Samuelson, P.E.
Dam Safety Program, MC 174
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753
In about two year's time the engineering staff of the Dam Safety Program has grown from 7 to 40. To determine which Program engineer can help with an EAP, dam owners can contact the Austin office.
Once a dam owner has obtained the Dam Safety Program’s “Guidelines for Developing Emergency Action Plans in Texas” the next step will be to contact the Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) with jurisdiction for the area where the dam is located. When it comes time to sit down and create the EAP, there often will be no better partner than the county or city EMC. The EMCs are the key local contact in the event of an emergency and must have a copy of the plan on file. The EMC may be a city or county staff person. A phone call to the nearest city hall or county courthouse will determine the contact information for the EMC. The EMC can help the dam owner compile the flowchart of emergency personnel to notify, understand the inundation zone, locate maps of the area, and work with other agencies such as the assessor’s office to develop list of people at risk.
At the national level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) provide educational materials for dam owners. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service also provides help with EAPs for dams that included NRCS (or its predecessor Soil Conservation Service) funds or involvement.
Other Important Local Officials
Mayors and county judges have responsibility for emergency preparedness and response within their jurisdictions. These officials appoint the EMC to manage day-to-day program activities. An EMC has many responsibilities, and dam owners should understand that they will need to be flexible in working with the EMC to gather the information needed for a complete EAP. Local emergency management duties include threat identification and prevention activities, emergency planning, providing or arranging training for local officials and emergency responders, planning and conducting drills and exercises, carrying out public education relating to known hazards, designing and implementing hazard mitigation programs, coordinating emergency response operations during incidents and disasters, and carrying out recovery activities in the aftermath of a disaster.
Local emergency management organizations may be organized at the city level, at the county level or as an inter-jurisdictional program that includes one or more counties and multiple cities. They may be organized as part of the mayor or county judge’s staff, as a separate office or agency, as part of the local fire department or law enforcement agency, or in other ways. Local EMCs may be part of emergency management offices or agencies, homeland security offices or agencies, or some combination of the two.
Most local governments have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffed by members of its various departments. The EOC is activated to manage the response to dam failures and other incidents and to coordinate internal and external resource support. Some local governments have an alternate or mobile EOC as well. Most local governments use the Incident Command System (ICS) as their incident management scheme. Under ICS, an Incident Commander typically directs the on-scene response by local responders from a field command post set up at or near the incident site. Responders from other jurisdictions and state and federal responders that have been called on to assist when local resources are inadequate to deal with a major emergency are integrated into the local incident command system.