No Immediate Danger- Dam Labeled Potentially Unsafe

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
After rating the Truman Dam “potentially unsafe”, the Army Corps of Engineers will be holding a meeting to address what they found during their Dam Safety Action Classification analysis on Wednesday at the Truman Dam Visitor’s Center.
There are two reasons a dam run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be given a Dam Safety Action Class 2 rating, the rating given to the Truman Dam.
The first would be if there was an imminent threat of a dam breach or break.
The Corps of Engineers says that’s not the case for the Truman Dam.
“There are not any structural repairs that were deemed warranted to lessen the overall dam safety risk, and therefore we are not anticipating any changes to our routine operations and maintenance activities,” said Scott Mensing, Dam Safety Expert with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Kansas City.
Warsaw Alderman Eric Masoner says he doesn’t believe the city is in any immediate danger. “I’ve lived here all my life and I feel Truman Dam is safe,” Masoner said. “It is impossible to predict what might happen but the dam isn’t that old. I live downtown so I certainly hope nothing happens to the dam because Warsaw would be gone.”
The reason the Truman Dam got that Class 2 rating is because the Army Corps of Engineers believes there could be a high life or economic cost if the dam were to breach, or if there is a large amount of water released from the spillways because of a rare rain event.
“The number of folks that live below Truman, and the size of our reservoir puts us at a higher level for us of making sure we’re notifying people as much as possible of the fact that live near and below a dam and make them more aware of the potential risk that they could face,” Mensing said.
To help with notify people of a potential disaster, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Benton County Emergency Management Agency has established a system that will send out a message if there were any dangers - either from the dam or weather emergencies.
“We’ve got thousands of people that live downstream, and the people who live upstream in case of a dam failure would be at risk as well,” said Mark Richerson, Benton County Emergency Management Agency Director.
Richerson says home phones are already in the system, and they’d be able to send the notification to all cellphones that ping in the area.
“If that ever did come about, then the mass notification would go to everybody in the whole county.”
You’re also able to sign up for additional alerts that will give additional emergency details like shelter information and travel alerts.
To sign up for that, you can head over to and click on “RAVE.” You can click the link on the side of this article which will redirect you.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s meeting is Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
The open house will consist of open dialogue regarding risk awareness between the community and Corps of Engineers personnel. The open house will focus on promoting emergency preparedness and provide the public information on evacuation readiness, and communicate dam risk to the population-at-risk located downstream. Truman staff and experts on dam safety and the engineering assessment will be on hand to answer questions regarding the risk evaluation; emergency preparedness; powerhouse repairs; and other ongoing projects.
Truman Reservoir is the largest flood control reservoir in Missouri, with a storage capacity of more than 5 million acre-feet (an acre-foot = 325,000 gal.). At normal pool (706 ft. above mean sea level) the reservoir has a surface area of about 55,600 acres – this surface area can grow to over 200,000 acres at the top of the flood control pool. During periods of flooding, Truman Reservoir, operating in conjunction with other reservoirs, helps protect the lower Osage, Missouri and Mississippi River floodplains.
Harry S. Truman Dam was designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District and completed in 1978. USACE operates Harry S. Truman Dam for flood damage reduction, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife.
The main components of the project are an earthen embankment section,
which serves as the main water barrier composed of compacted earth,
concrete gated spillway structure that allows controlled water flow out of the dam, and a hydroelectric powerhouse. The earthen dam is 5,964 feet long, 123.9 feet high, and top of the dam is 35 feet wide. The elevation of the top of the embankment is 756.4 feet. The foundation is made up of earthen materials. The concrete spillway is located at the right end of the embankment section and is 190 feet wide with an elevation of 692.7 feet. The spillway can pass up to 2,124,20 gallons per second (284,000 cubic feet per second) or approximately the volume of three and a half Olympic-sized swimming pool each second.
During normal operations, the lake is kept at a relatively consistent level (referred to as conservation pool). Should heavy rains occur in the spring or at any other time, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until the swollen streams and rivers below the dam recede and can handle the release of stored water without damage to lives, property or the environment. Sometimes water must be released to protect the dam’s integrity even though streams and rivers may have already reached or exceeded their capacity. Truman operators and those at Bagnell Dam work closely during periods of significant rainfall or flooding to minimize releases that pose a potential threat for downstream flooding.
According to the Corps, dams reduce but do not eliminate the risk of economic and environmental damages and loss of life from flood events. When a flood exceeds the reservoir’s storage capacity, large amounts of water may have to be released that could cause damaging flooding downstream. A fully-functioning dam could be overtopped when a rare, large flood occurs, or a dam could breach because of a deficiency, both of which pose risk of property damage and life loss. This means there will always be flood risk that has to be managed. To manage these risks, the Corps has a routine program that inspects and monitors its dams regularly. The agency implements short- and long-term actions, on a prioritized basis, when unacceptable risks are found at any of its dams.
Closer to home, Ameren Missouri recently completed a $53 million reliability upgrade to the historic Bagnell Dam. The project included installation of a series of new anchors and concrete on the downstream side of the dam, which improves overall safety, efficiency and reliability of the 85-year-old structure.
Initial work began March 2017 and included the removal of timeworn concrete from the surface of the dam. Crews then installed 67 post-tensioned anchors, strengthening the connection to bedrock. More than 66 million pounds of new concrete was poured to further weigh down the dam. This is the first major structural update in more than 30 years and builds on Ameren’s expertise in enhancing dam safety.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is encouraging anyone who lives at the Truman Dam, and downstream through the Lake of the Ozarks to attend the meeting on Wednesday from 5 PM until 7 PM.