Emergency Action Planning



Dam Owner Responsibilities

About EAPs

What is the law in North Carolina?

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) are required as a condition of impoundment for all new High-Hazard Potential (HHP) dams in North Carolina. The EAPs must be approved by engineers in the Dam Safety Program of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). EAPs are not required under state law for dams that already exist, but dam owners are strongly urged by engineers of the Dam Safety Program, state and local emergency management directors, and federal dam safety authorities to have EAPs for their HHP dams.

It boils down to a simple question for any dam owner: Without an EAP how will you know what to do if there is a dam emergency, and how will you know if everyone your dam puts at risk can be notified to evacuate?

In North Carolina, EAPs on HHP dams may not be a legal obligation, but they surely are a social and moral obligation of dam owners, as well as a smart, proactive legal strategy.

As cited in the North Carolina "Dam Operation, Maintenance and Inspection Manual":

Dam owners and operating personnel must be prepared to act promptly and effectively when a dam begins to shown signs of failure. Early identification of a hazardous Situation may provide additional time to warn and evacuate downstream residents and to implement measures to prevent or delay dam failure. Because failure of a dam may take only minutes or hours, it is imperative to have a detailed plan of action ready to use. This plan, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), should include procedures for notification and coordination with local law enforcement and other governmental agencies, information on potential areas of inundation, plans for warning and evacuation, and information on resources and procedures for making emergency repairs.

The Manual details how to identify emergency conditions at a dam. The Manual outlines the required responses on the part of the dam owner. These responses provide guidance but are not a substitute for an EAP, which will contain all the details, names and phone numbers, and other critical information these guidelines can only suggest. An EAP is customized to a specific dam and helps assure an orderly, thorough, timely, and proper emergency response.