LANGLEY - According to officials with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), the Pensacola Dam is not one of the deficient dams featured in a recent report by the Tulsa World.
The report, which appeared in that paper on January 11, stated that Oklahoma has the “second highest percentage of deficient high-hazard dams in the United States.”
Cited in the article were safety snafus such as lack of emergency plans, lack of yearly inspections, and insufficient staffing.
GRDA Spokesman Justin Alberty said the Pensacola Dam, built in 1940 to form Grand Lake, has no such problems.
“We have a state-mandated Emergency Action Plan that we test and update every year,” Alberty said.
He said GRDA coordinates with REC, FERC, and local law enforcement and Emergency Management.
“If there ever was a breach, we would already have everything in place,” Alberty said.
He said in addition to having a detailed emergency plan in place, GRDA has a directory of all the people who live below the dam and would be able to contact them immediately in the event of an emergency.
Alberty also reported that GRDA does routine dam inspections on a regular basis.
“Core samples from the bedrock are taken every year to test the stability of the dam,” he explained.
He said a “snooper” truck is used to examine the dam’s arches and to get under the roadbed and check for any potential problems. The snooper truck is similar to a bucket truck. It can be maneuvered down and sidewise so that workers can get a close-up look at the sides of the dam.
“They also inspect the roadbed every year,” Alberty added. “We keep a pretty close eye on it.”
Alberty said GRDA has no shortage of dam employees like some other Oklahoma dams.
“We have the personnel we need in place,” he said. “They stay pretty busy and they do a good job.”
Alberty said that the Pensacola and Robert Kerr dams are unlike a lot of other dams in the state in that they were built to generate power instead of merely being put in place for flood control.
“They are an important part of our power generation, so we’ve got to have people there to take care of them,” Alberty said.
According to the Tulsa World, Oklahoma has one of the worst employee-to-dam ratios in the nation.
The article states that despite Oklahoma being a state with one of the highest numbers of dams in the nation, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board has among the fewest dam safety employees.
Only four states have more dams than Oklahoma.
According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Oklahoma has the nation's second highest percentage of deficient high-hazard dams. Fifty-two percent of the state's potentially deadly dams need repair. Only Delaware has a higher percentage.
Dam deficiencies may be caused by anything from erosion to tree roots to burrowing animals.
According to the Tulsa World, 44 of Oklahoma's “high-hazard” dams do not have a state-mandated emergency action plan.