Extreme Storm Could Overwhelm High Desert Dam, Flood Thousands in Inland Empire

Victorville residents Charles Pritchett, left, and Kyle Carroll enjoy the solitude of the Mojave River just downstream from the Mojave River Dam on Nov. 5, 2019.(Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Victorville residents Charles Pritchett, left, and Kyle Carroll enjoy the solitude of the Mojave River just downstream from the Mojave River Dam on Nov. 5, 2019.(Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Federal engineers have found that a dam protecting the high desert communities of Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley and Barstow falls short of national safety standards and could erode and collapse in an extreme flood, inundating thousands of people.

Officials for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that they had raised the risk factor for the Mojave River Dam from “low” to “high urgency action” because of “performance concerns” discovered at the 48-year-old structure, which joins a growing inventory of California dams showing signs of severe stress.

The Corps is considering strategies to shore up the dam and also counter the impacts of extreme weather shifts due to climate change, said Gary Lee, chief safety engineer for the Army Corps’ Los Angeles District, during a tour of the structure on Tuesday.

“This dam was built in 1971, when climate change was still an unknown phenomenon,” he said. “Climate change creates more uncertainty, which, going forward, will be taken into account.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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