BLM MT DKs Anita Dam Tabletop Exercise 2017


Arising out of the seemingly endless
horizon of the prairie, the Anita Dam is located in the HiLine country of
north-central Montana, just a few miles shy of the Canadian border.
The dam, which was completed in November 1996, was designed to provide water
storage aid with flood control and to benefit waterfowl and wildlife. Rapid
runoff in the spring of 1997 caused the outlet conduit to fail, emptying the
reservoir and prompting authorities to give evacuation notices to families who
live downstream. “And, at the time, we did not have an Emergency Action Plan, we
weren’t prepared for it, it was pretty nerve-wracking, I’d have to
say. And, we were fortunate that we didn’t have a larger breach.” While there was
some damage, no one was hurt and residents didn’t have to leave their
homes. The dam was redesigned and rebuilt and has been operating successfully and
safely ever since. But, that 1997 failure prompted the BLM
to reevaluate and significantly improve its dam safety program. Emergency Action Plans have since been created for all six high-hazard dams that the BLM
manages in Montana and the Dakotas. Those emergency plans are reviewed on a
regular basis with local officials during tabletop exercises like the one
held in early June at the Blaine County Courthouse in Chinook. “So it’s good to
have faces and names phone numbers so you can call and to meet ahead of time
so that relationship is built and that you know know those people, because it
makes it a lot easier to deal with them in the time of crisis.” “We don’t have
Hoover Dams or Canyon Ferry Dams; I mean we have a lot of Anita Dams. And, this one just happens to be above home sites and farmsteads that can cause loss of lives.”
Whether they provide for flood control, irrigation, livestock, waterfowl, wildlife
or recreation, safely managing and maintaining over
240 dams across Montana and the Dakotas is just another way the BLM is serving
the American family.

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