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Buford Dam checked often for safety concerns

POSTED: February 22, 2014 12:15 a.m.

Is the Buford Dam earthquake resistant?

Like most if not all dams, Buford Dam was designed with the possibility of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornados in mind, according to Army Corps of Engineers district spokeswoman Lisa Parker.

In addition to this, the dam undergoes a variety of inspections, including periodical earthquake safety reviews.

The last such evaluation was in 1999, and determined that the likelihood of an earthquake both close enough and strong enough to affect the dam was low to moderate. However, Parker said the Corps monitors environmental factors such as weather, and if a natural disaster should ever take place near the dam, operators would immediately begin safety protocols.

These protocols entail a complete inspection of the dam, and further action would be determined based on the need.
“The Corps has an aggressive safety program,” Parker said. “Public safety is our No. 1 priority.

“Dam operators are constantly checking, assessing and monitoring the dam and saddle dikes for seepage, erosion, structural stability and overall safety of the system.”

The next earthquake safety review is scheduled for next year.

In addition to the review, the dam undergoes both daily and yearly inspections meant to find any instability or compromise in the dam, including fractures or breaks that can be caused by earthquakes.

Though local residents may have felt the earthquake that occurred in South Carolina on Feb. 14, it was too far away to have any effect on the dam, Parker said.

According to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, earthquakes are rare in Georgia. The majority of them are focused in the northwestern or eastern portion of the state or around Atlanta.

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