Pacific Gas and Electric Company is doing public outreach to residents, businesses and recreationists immediately downstream of its dams, including six dams in Placer and Nevada counties.
The campaign is to alert people in dam inundation areas about the importance of having an evacuation plan and recognizing signs of a dam breach.
“Dams in the United States are very safe, and dam failures are very rare,” said Mary Richardson, PG&E’s manager of public safety for power generation. “PG&E inspects and maintains its dams according to strict safety guidelines, ensuring structural integrity under normal and extreme conditions. This campaign is about the importance of being aware of potential flooding and about having an evacuation plan should a dam fail.”
The safety campaign is a nationwide initiative by the federal Energy Regulatory Commission for hydroelectric dam owners to better inform people downstream of dams and is not a reflection of dam conditions. Brochures will be sent to residents and businesses in areas that in the event of a dam failure, could be impacted by an inundation wave before they receive notification by local emergency agencies.
In Placer and Nevada counties, PG&E is mailing brochures to about 400 residences and businesses within the potential flood inundation area below six dams. About 280 residences and businesses in Auburn will receive brochures and letters, 96 in Washington, 18 in Soda Springs, eight in Emigrant Gap and four in Alta.
The mailing also includes information on open houses for anyone interested in learning more. The open houses will take place March 28 at the Colfax City Hall, 33 S. Main St., Colfax, and April 4 at the Holiday Inn, 120 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn. Both open houses will take place from 5 to 8 p.m.
The six dams are the Spaulding Dam in Nevada County, the Drum Forebay Dam near Midas, the Lower Peak Main Dam near Soda Springs and the Rock Creek, Halsey Afterbay and Wise Forebay dams in north Auburn.
The brochures include a map of nearby PG&E dams, emergency planning guidelines safety tips and local emergency contacts. PG&E is also placing posters in campgrounds and parks in inundation areas throughout its service area in the next few months.
The brochures include information on how to recognize potential warning signs of dam failure, which include rapidly changing river or stream conditions, such as increased water speed or depth.
PG&E has 171 dams, but only 27 of these dams require mailings to a total of about 1,000 customers. Most PG&E dams are located in sparsely populated areas.
PG&E has developed plans with emergency agencies to warn the public in the unlikely event of a sudden dam failure. The utility regularly drills with emergency agencies on being prepared for sudden dam failures.
Information is available by calling 415-973-SAFE (7233).