U.S. inspects Hawaii dams following earthquake

The Corps of Engineers is performing a visual conditions survey of all dams in Hawaii, in the wake of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake that rattled the Hawaiian Islands Oct. 15.

Teams of Corps structural engineers already carried out inspections of specific structures in support of post-earthquake assessments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Public structures assessed on the islands of Hawaii and Maui included two dams.

The Corps said it would perform the visual conditions survey of all dams in Hawaii at the request of state government and as authorized by FEMA, which is to pay for the inspections.

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources directed all dam and reservoir owners to inspect their facilities for possible damage within 48 hours of the earthquake. The department said it would inspect dams and reservoirs statewide over several weeks to identify possible damage.

The department’s Hawaii Inventory of Dams lists 133 dams: 53 on Kauai; 16 on Oahu; 51 on Maui, Molokai, and Lanai; and 13 on the island of Hawaii. There are 75 dams in the state categorized as �high risk,� and 21 significant-risk dams, 20-low-risk dams, and 17 dams of an undetermined risk, the department has said.

The Corps also helped the state inspect dams following the March 14 failure of the century-old Kaloko Reservoir Dam, which killed seven people. (HNN 5/24/06) At that time, the Corps said an emergency inspection of all 54 dams on Kauai found conditions at every dam that could lead to failure.

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