Hawaiian Island Dam on Maui Is in Danger of Failure

Evacuations ordered!

Dams are one piece of our nation's critical infrastructure that have not been maintained over the years. One dam, its maintenance status unknown, has been determined to be near failure. See this CNN news item: "Evacuations ordered as dam on the Hawaiian island of Maui is in danger of failure."

Dam failures are not that uncommon. Remember the Michigan dam failures that happened in May 2020?

With climate change we will see more intense storms and rainfall, testing the capacity of older dams that have not had the maintenance or replacements needed to keep them functional and safe. 

Another aspect of dams is that many are smaller operations on private property. Similar to levee systems established by farmers to protect their agricultural land, they were never engineered to be protecting homes and businesses, which now fill the open spaces that were once farm fields. In some states they likely do not have a good inventory of all the dams in the state, their ownership or maintenance and safety status. 

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.