Possible Oak Mountain State Park dam failure a concern

Indian Springs Village Mayor Brenda Bell-Guercio proposed an inundation study in the case of a catastrophic failure of dams in Oak Mountain State Park. If dams at Double Oak Lake and Old Lake were to fail, the water would flood Pelham, Bell-Guercio said. (Contributed)

Indian Springs Village Mayor Brenda Bell-Guercio proposed an inundation study in the case of a catastrophic failure of dams in Oak Mountain State Park. If dams at Double Oak Lake and Old Lake were to fail, the water would flood Pelham, Bell-Guercio said. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Pelham is in conversation with neighboring Indian Springs Village about carrying out an inundation study in the case of a catastrophic dam failure at Oak Mountain State Park.

Indian Springs Village Mayor Brenda Bell-Guercio presented the situation to the Pelham City Council during a June 2 work session. Bell-Guercio indicated five aging dams in Oak Mountain State Park, noting tree growth in several of the earthen dams and “deteriorating” spillways.

“If dams one and two fail, they go through Pelham,” Bell-Guercio said.

What Bell-Guercio said is most “worrying” are the schools that could be directly impacted if the dams were to fail. Several Oak Mountain schools are located directly below the dams, and Valley Elementary School could be impacted, Bell-Guercio said.

The inundation study would show where water could go in the case of a “catastrophic failure,” and would allow for Pelham, Indian Springs Village and schools to create an emergency action plan.

Bell-Gurcio said the inundation study would cost around $30,000, with Pelham paying $15,000, Shelby County paying $10,000 and Indian Springs Village paying $5,000.

“I don’t think the state is going to be able to get involved in the inundation study,” Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said in a June 6 phone interview.

Hayes said the inundation study is an “ongoing conversation.”

“(We are) working through the details on how to do an inundation study,” Hayes said. “We’re willing to participate.”