A new outreach and communications program has been launched to help increase the number of Incident and Emergency Action Plans (IEAPs) completed for Indiana’s high-hazard potential (HHP) dams. Supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the outreach program will aid the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Water efforts to increase public and dam owner awareness of the importance of IEAPs for the protection of lives and property.
Dam owners have the legal liability and social responsibility to provide IEAPs, although they are not mandatory under current Indiana dam safety laws and regulations. More than 200 of 245 state-regulated HHP dams do not have IEAPs, according to DNR records. DNR dam safety engineers and staff inspect the dams and can provide assistance to dam owners in completing an IEAP. Nationally, more than 3,100 state-regulated HHP dams do not have IEAPs.
High-Hazard Potential means loss of life would be likely in the event of a dam failure. The HHP designation does not in any way reflect the current condition of the dam’s structural integrity. HHP dams under state regulation are inspected at least every two years by DNR dam safety engineers.
An IEAP is a plan of action to reduce potential loss of lives in an area affected by a dam failure. An IEAP can be instrumental in identifying an “incident” at a dam, such as seepage or a mechanical malfunction, and preventing it from becoming an emergency. The IEAP includes a map of the potential inundation area, along with procedures and information for notifying downstream emergency managers. Using the IEAP, county and local emergency managers can identify the location of businesses, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, residences, and highways at risk. The IEAP also specifies shelters, emergency resources, and other information crucial for an efficient response, including, if necessary, evacuation procedures and routes.