Colombia utility invests in security of 22 dams

Colombia utility Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) says it plans to invest 400 million pesos (US$150,000) this year in its dam security program for the 22 dams in its hydropower and water supply system.

EPM said its ongoing program is to guarantee the quality and permanence of the structures as well as the security and physical integrity of the people and facilities located downstream. It said its system is designed to prevent, detect, and deal with any deficiency; act effectively in case of emergency; and assure continuing benefits of energy and water.

EPM has 12 large and 10 small dams in the Guatape-Playas, Riogrande, and Guadalupe-Porce hydroelectric complexes and in the Manantiales, La Ayura, and Villa Hermosa potable water systems.

Its dam security system includes technical inspections, monitoring of more than 1,600 instruments to measure geotechnical and structural variables, maintenance of works, and detailed evaluations of each dam’s stability and design criteria.

As a result of these analyses, EPM said it invested 5 billion pesos (US$1.9 million) in 2005 to update Santa Rita Dam in the Guatape hydro complex.

EPM said its internal emergency plan provides for continuous training of hydro plant personnel to detect and warn of potential threats such as earthquakes, exceptional flooding, deficiencies, or terrorist actions. It said it also has an agreement with the national disaster agency to implement emergency action plans to protect affected populations.

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