California’s Mojave River Dam could maybe well maybe fail in an shameful storm, put 300,000 at flood misfortune, officials dispute

By | November 3, 2019

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Anxiousness is brewing upstream.

An shameful storm within the long dawdle could maybe well maybe threaten a major earthen dam in Southern California, sending water flooding into communities within the Mojave Barren procedure that are house to a total bunch of thousands of of us, in accordance to officials.

The U.S. Military Corps of Engineers mentioned in a news free up on Friday that the federal company has changed the misfortune characterization of the Mojave River Dam positioned northeast of Los Angeles from “low” to “high urgency of circulate” after a present misfortune evaluate.

“The dam has by no technique experienced spillway float or a flood tournament that has loaded the dam tremendously,” Col. Aaron Barta, commander of the Corps’ Los Angeles District, mentioned in a statement. “That is a storm that isn’t going to occur, however it is miles nonetheless an actual possibility and one we desire to be prepared for.”


The earthen dam used to be constructed in 1971 end to the San Bernardino Mountains, and used to be “designed and constructed per the factors of the day,” in accordance to federal officials.

The Mojave River Dam, pictured in this undated photo, was built in the 1970s near the San Bernardino Mountains. Officials said Friday the dam could fail during an extreme storm, causing flooding in Mojave Desert communities.

The Mojave River Dam, pictured on this undated photo, used to be constructed within the 1970s end to the San Bernardino Mountains. Officials mentioned Friday the dam could maybe well maybe fail all thru an shameful storm, causing flooding in Mojave Barren procedure communities.
(U.S. Military Corps of Engineers)

“It continues to diagram as it used to be designed and reduces misfortune for added than 16,000 of us and $1.5 billion in property,” the company mentioned.

The 200-foot dam has by no technique been breached, however an evaluate done in 2018 stumbled on that all thru an shameful storm, water could maybe well maybe float over the pinnacle of the structure, causing it to erode and potentially fail. If the dam comprise been to fail, it would threaten the communities of Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville and Barstow, positioned adjacent to the Mojave River that is house to about 300,000 of us.

A potential dam failure could maybe well maybe generate flooding that could maybe well maybe even influence the city of Baker, positioned extra than 140 miles downriver.

Luciano Vera, a spokesman for the Los Angeles district of the Military Corps of Engineers, informed the Associated Press that the probabilities of a storm that could maybe well maybe overtop the dam are diminutive, about 1-in-10,000.

Nonetheless Vera added shapely because chances are diminutive doesn’t minimalize the threat.

“All it takes is one tournament…one Katrina, one Storm Harvey,” Vera informed the AP. “These storms are going on extra and extra, so right here’s our procedure of getting a seek toward the long dawdle.”


The Military Corps mentioned in a news free up it is miles evaluating length in-between misfortune-good buy measures associated to a potential overtopping of the dam and anticipates that a few of those measures will seemingly be in station earlier than this year’s frigid weather rains. The Military Corps has been having a seek in any appreciate of its 700 dams nationwide within the wake of Storm Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

The Military Corp’s LA District owns and operates 17 dams across California, Arizona and Nevada that lop the misfortune of flooding for about 7 million of us and $200 billion within the property. These dams are “reviewed periodically” and rated in accordance to the age and situation of the dam, as properly as to potential consequences. The federal company’s dams vary from low to “very high urgency of circulate.”

In the wake of Friday’s announcement, the Corps moreover mentioned that it is miles “actively coordinating” with companions and coordinating public outreach as piece of length in-between misfortune-management solutions.

“We’re working carefully with San Bernardino County, Apple Valley, Victorville, Hesperia and diversified downstream agencies to present a enhance to flood-misfortune awareness and emergency preparedness,” mentioned Kristen Bedolla, Dam Safety Program manager for the LA District. “Neighborhood preparation moreover is a key ingredient in reducing flood misfortune.”


In Could merely, the Corps upgraded the misfortune characterization of Prado Dam to high urgency. That dam is found on the Santa Ana River within the Los Angeles suburb of Corona. Dozens of Southern California cities with about 1.4 million of us are residing downstream. Work to present a enhance to the dam has been underway since 2002 to amplify the amount of floodwaters and sediment it would retailer.

In 2017, some 200,000 of us in three Sierra Nevada counties in Northern California comprise been pressured to evacuate after spillways at the Oroville Dam crumbled and fell away all thru heavy rains.

Flooding didn’t occur, nonetheless, and the dam and associated spillways comprise since been repaired.

The Associated Press contributed to this document.