- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has updated its maps showing were the water would flow if any of its dams in Lane County failed.

About 300 residents who had asked to see the maps are viewing them in four meetings that are open by invitation only.

There may be additional meetings, corps officials said, but the maps won’t be released generally for reasons that include security against terrorism, the Eugene Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1gAlfgp) reported Wednesday.

The corps says the maps are tools that local emergency managers can use to draft plans to respond in the highly unlikely event of a dam failure. They were given to emergency managers last year.

“When we’re having a conversation with the public about risk, we don’t just want to tell them the risk,” said Scott Clemans, spokesman for the corps’ Portland District. “We want to tell them what do you do about this risk, what is it you need to take action on. What is it you need to know? … And you can’t do that by just handing them this map.”

There are nine dams, built between the 1940s and 1960s: Blue River, Cottage Grove, Cougar, Dexter, Dorena, Fall Creek, Fern Ridge, Hills Creek and Lookout Point.

The mapmakers took advantage of technological advances to develop greater details and accuracy, said Matthew Craig, the Portland district’s dam safety program manager. The last maps were produced more than 30 years ago.

The maps pinpoint the areas that would be flooded, the water level at the start and peak of the flooding, and how long it would take for the flooding to start and reach its maximum height after a dam failed. They also identify schools, hospitals and police and fire stations. They don’t address what might cause the dams to fail.

The maps identify flooded areas based on two scenarios: when reservoir and river conditions are normal, and when volume is high.

Lane County Emergency Manager Linda Cook said the detail has allowed her department for the first time to identify routes to get people to high ground.

Before making that information public, she said, she’s working to get commitments from agencies that they would direct motorists to those routes.

“This is not going to be ready for prime time anytime soon,” she said. “I’d say we’re at least 12 to 18 months out.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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