Dam Failures are Spectacular Flukes?

If mother nature followed a set schedule, it would have held off until one of the three floodgates on the dam was repaired. However, 10 inches of rain fell and soon the discharge limited dam overtopped slicing a channel in the earthen dam.  Within a short time,  most of the 440-acre lake drained out through the new hole. 900 homes around the lake now have a great view of a river and muck. 



Was the Lake Delhi Dam failure in northeastern Iowa’s Delaware County two weeks ago a spectacular fluke?








Lake Delhi: The Aftermath


I don’t think so.  


Seven years ago, 8 inches of rain caused an 80 year old earthen dam in North Carolina to breach when one of the floodgates failed to open and water came over the dam. Sound familiar? However, last month engineers noticed erosion around the dam and decided to release two-feet of water from the lake. According to media reports, while releasing water, part of the dam’s foundation gave way causing the lake to drain. Now Hope Mills Lake is drained and in need of a major repair.


There have been over 20 dam failures or near dam failures in the US since 2001. Seepage through the dam, foundation defects, and spillway problems are often the main cause of failure. Dams are not sexy, but they need our constant love and attention.  


Read more about dam safety?

  • The Hidden World of Dam Safety
  • Toccoa Falls Dam Failure