Arcadia in high-risk situation if nearby dam fails

Reports from television sometimes tend to get a little hyperbolic. But this one from KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City about the Route 66 town of Arcadia, Okla., brings a new angle to the state’s newfound earthquake problem I hadn’t considered.

The gist: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is increasingly concerned about earthquakes’ effects on nearby Arcadia Lake Dam and other dams. If the “high hazard” earthen dam in Arcadia Lake fails, there would be a “a probable loss of human life” and widespread property damage.

An Oklahoma County report also said the nearby Route 66 town of Luther also would be flooded.

When the dam was built in 1986, its designers didn’t consider the 4.0- and even 5.0-magnitude earthquakes that have plagued central Oklahoma shortly after injection wells started pumping used fracking fluids deep underground. It’s these injection wells that have drawn increasing blame for Oklahoma earthquakes.

Oklahoma once averaged just 50 earthquakes a year. In 2013, the number was more than 2,600.

In response to the new problem, KFOR reported:

Last year, the Oklahoma Water Resource Board passed a new rule requiring an unscheduled dam inspection if a magnitude 5.0 earthquake strikes within 50 miles of any dam structure.

Earthquakes also are the big reason I hold reservations about the running of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Oklahoma, including under the Route 66 town of Stroud. Keystone’s own risk-assessment report from 2006 didn’t inspire much confidence. It said Oklahoma was not a “high earthquake hazard area” — something folks in Lincoln County would very likely dispute.

I’m not sure how much an Arcadia Dam failure would affect the town’s two biggest attractions — POPS and the 1898 Round Barn. During an 8- to 10-inch rainstorm a few years ago that flooded almost the entire valley, both POPS and the barn were on high enough ground they weren’t directly affected. But a dam failure is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

(Image of Arcadia’s Round Barn by Travel Aficionado via Flickr)

2 thoughts on “Arcadia in high-risk situation if nearby dam fails

  1. Of course Oklahoma is not a high earthquake hazard state! If it were not for oil field fracking, we just wouldn’t have any of this foolishness going on.
    Once this is over, you’ll see that for sure!
    Let me give an example. I own property near Stillwater, two miles east of me, is a large pond full of water. An oil company, ran a ten inch water line from there, down our county road, without asking permission by the way, and on down two more miles past our place. Pumping thousands of gallons of pond water to a huge well site.
    The bore went down, and made at least four, perhaps five right angles, going out in different directions. This water, pumped to the site from the pond, mind you, was then pumped down the well and into the rock strata hydraulically. Thus lifting and moving the rock strata to release the petroleum products and gas.
    Now this particular well was hydraulically “fracked” in 32 stages, little by little, so as not to cause a large disruption.
    Now if someone put a hydraulic jack under the corner of your brick home, and started raising that corner, do you not think, that your brickwork and interior sheetrock would begin to crack and fall off?
    I for one, am not the least worried about the dam at Arcadia Lake. There are many other dams on larger and smaller lakes and ponds all over the state to be concerned about.
    What I would like to see, is the energy companies step up to the plate and be responsible to the people of Oklahoma and stop confusing the issue here.
    It seems that it is fair game in this state, for the energy companies to cheat the public out of the oil under their lands, and do everything possible to get at it without having to apologize and pay UP.

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