Avoiding Another Infrastructure Disaster

In 2007 and then again in 2017, Florida Department of Environmental Protection acknowledged that more than 400 properties were in potential harm’s way if the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam failed. It is a mystery why the state has classified the dam as low hazard when FEMA’s definition of a low hazard dam in one where “failure or faulty operation of a low hazard potential dam is likely to result in little economic and environmental loss and no loss of human life.”

FDEP’s 2018 Cross Florida Greenway Plan stated, “Approximately 400+ properties were shown to be in potential harm’s way if the Kirkpatrick Dam failed and the impounded water in the reservoir flowed downstream in an uncontrolled discharge. There has never been a formal water management plan developed for this reservoir. Department of Recreation and Parks/Cross Florida Greenway Management should have and has recurrently asked for the development and implementation of such a plan for the protection of personal property and life downstream from the Kirkpatrick Dam along the St. Johns River.” – Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway State Recreation and Conservation Area Unit Management Plan 2018-2028, approved April 2018 by Acquisition and Restoration Council

The FDEP’s 2006 Emergency Action Plan for the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam contains an inundation map and list of properties that would be in harm’s way. The maps show areas of greatest concern of likely inundation if the dam were to fail under fair weather conditions (not storm or hurricane conditions). The map has been updated and now contains an estimated 539 private and public parcels with a conservative projected property loss value from dam failure of $57 million. This does not address the potential for loss of life.

FDEP has completed a new 2018 Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to address dam safety at the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam and how to deal with such an emergency. That document has not been released to the public, including to those property owners in harm’s way in the event of a dam failure. There is also a new, required bi-annual Dam Safety Assessment in process.