A Sanford couple is taking on the federal government in general and FERC (Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission) in particular after they lost their lakefront home in May when the Sanford Dam was overwhelmed, causing major flooding. This is interesting since at the root of the dam disaster is the failure of FERC. For years, FERC kept humouring the dam owner, and tolerated its violations. Why it did that, when it could have taken much stronger action almost two decades back is a mystery. Hopefully, this case will help get it resolved. Continue reading “Michigan Dam failures-2: FERC is also in the dock”
On Tuesday, May 19, 2020 evening following two days of heavy (4-7 inches) rains, Edinville Dam breached at 1740 and downstream Sanford dam overflowed at 1900 hours, leading to highest ever water level in downstream towns, leading to evacuation of over 10 000 people, besides massive damage, including to roads, bridges, buildings and crops. Both were earthen dams, Edinville dam famously did not have sufficient spillway capacity to pass even half the PMF (Probable Maximum Flood) it was expected to get. USA has much better dam safety situations legally, institutionally and practically that we in India have, and yet this happened where problems were known. As India awaits in the South West Monsoon 2020, there is lot we need to learn here and worry about our dams. Continue reading “Michigan Dam failures: New Warnings for India’s Dam Safety”
On March 14, 2019 the Spencer dam on Niobrara river, located south of Spencer in Nebraska state in USA breached, killing four people in the downstream. The Investigation Report about the disaster has been made public now on April 24, 2020. The remains of Spencer Dam — a skeleton of concrete and steel amid a sea of sand — became one of the iconic images of the March 2019 “bomb cyclone” flood that caused billions of dollars in damage across Nebraska.
Less than four months later, on July 2, 2019, Tiware dam breached[i] in Chiplun taluka of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, killing 23 people. The then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on July 6, 2019 announced a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the disaster, the SIT was to submit a report in two months, but the report was submitted in January 2020, but the report is not in public domain. When SANDRP talked with the chairman of the committee, he disclosed that the report has been submitted to the department in early Feb 2020 and it can only be made public by the department once they accept the report. He revealed that the SIT had found that there were issues with material of construction (masonry in place of Concrete) and design of the conduit of the dam. He agreed that the report should be made public promptly, but expressed his helplessness in face of the norms in India. SANDRP also called Secretary, Department of Water Conservation, Govt of Maharashtra, but got no response.
There is a lot to learn for us in India in comparing the two dam breach incidents and how both are treated.
This week multiple reports warned of how India is already facing climate change impacts, how the groundwater, India’s water lifeline could be under threat under climate change, how India’s monsoon, the other water lifeline of India is under threat.
In fact, we should be bracing up for the drought that the summer will bring, but as yet there is no signs of any preparedness or plans.
The Dam floods in Indonesia and the Brazil’s disaster due to breach of mine tailings dam should be additional warnings, but our Dam Safety Bill that is before the Parliament does not recognise either of them.
The World wetlands day 2019 later this week has slogan of: “We are not powerless against climate Change… stop draining wetlands”, connecting climate change and wetlands. But the news from Indian wetlands governance is scary.
The day before the World Wetlands Day the Vote on Accounts will be presented before the Parliament as full budget cannot be presented in light of forthcoming Parliament elections. But is there any hope that either the Budget or the elections will deal with the climate change or the environment issue with any sense of seriousness?
USA’s tallest, Oroville Dam on Feather river in California suffered severe spillway damage, as discovered on Feb 7, 2017. As we wrote in our blog “Oroville Dam Spillway Damage in USA: Worst is yet to come”[i] on Feb 12, 2017, worse was yet to come, but the author did not imagine the threat would materialize so soon. Here we try to capture the key events since that blog. Continue reading “Oroville Dam damage in US: Many questions”