The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District’s Emergency Operations Center was activated Wednesday morning after identifying potential breach conditions at the Arkabutla Dam.
On Tuesday, a flash flood watch was issued for six Mississippi counties over concerns that the dam, located on the Coldwater River, could fail soon.
During a Thursday interview on The Gallo Show, USACE Public Affairs Officer Anna Owens clarified that a depression was discovered towards the bottom of the dam during a routine inspection, prompting emergency actions to be taken.
“There have been some false reports out there that the dam has breached, that the dam is about to fail – that is not the case,” Owens said. “What’s happened is we have discovered a depression near the toe of the dam, which is where the base of the dam meets the earth. If we leave that unchecked, we could lose foundation stands that could potentially cause a breach.”
As of now, the USACE is looking to reduce the risk of flooding without inducing downstream flooding by slowly lowering water levels with the goal of having the pool elevation at 210 feet by mid-June. It is currently sitting at 228 feet.
All recreation areas and road access immediately downstream will be closed until a determination has been made that activity can resume. The following areas are closed at this time:
- Old Pratt Road
- Scenic Route 301 along the base of Arkabutla Dam
- South Outlet Channel Campground and Day Use Area, including Swinging Bridge Nature Trail and Boat Ramp
- North Outlet Day Use Area, including playgrounds, pavilions, the fishing pier, and Coldwater River Nature Trail
- Basketball court
Owens says there should not be any impact on boating during the summer months. However, people who enjoy fishing at the dam’s outlet channel are asked to refrain from doing so until advised otherwise.
More information regarding the status of the dam can be found here.