Emergency Action Plan for a Dam

Be Prepared sign with sky background

The North Carolina Dam Safety Program requires owners of high hazard dams to develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for their dam.  What is a high hazard dam?  

Hazard is a measure of “probable damage that would occur if the structure failed, in terms of loss of human life and economic loss or environmental damage.”  The classification of “high” hazard is where a dam failure “will likely cause loss of life or serious damage to homes, industrial and commercial buildings, important public utilities, primary highways, or major railroads.” 


EAPs are documents designed to guide the relevant people identified therein how to deal with an emergency in the event of a possible failure of a dam structure.  These documents have been a required component for the permitted operations of larger Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dams for years.  Since the development of the North Carolina Emergency Management Portal (NCEMP) for filing EAPs, the North Carolina Dam Safety Program has been proactive in having high-hazard dam owners submit EAPs for review and having them filed within the NCEMP.  This Portal provides access to information and tools that assist local emergency responders to better understand hazards and manage risks.  By law, the North Carolina Emergency Management is the lead State agency designated to coordinate information and resources for hazard risk management.  


Shield personnel have been developing inundation maps for dam EAPs throughout the Southeast for the past thirty years.  Such maps have been developed using several hydrological computer models ranging from DAMBRK, HEC-1, HEC-RAS, etc.


 Downstream Inundation Map for High Hazard Dam

Downstream Inundation Map for High Hazard Dam


A required component of the EAP is the identification of potentially impacted properties downstream of the dam structure.  The North Carolina Dam Safety Program offer dam owners a Simplified Inundation Map (SIM) methodology for developing this required map.  This SIM methodology is quite conservative and as a result more downstream properties will be listed as having a potential to be impacted due to the peak flood wave from a dam breach.  Shield can provide options to the dam owner for completing a computer modeling simulation of a dam breach for developing inundation maps.  Such a simulation usually exhibits fewer downstream properties with a potential to be impacted due to the peak flood wave. 


Do you have more questions about Emergency Action Plans? Shield Engineering’s team of talented and experienced professionals is ready to help.

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