Hot Springs County To Prepare Plan for Boysen Dam Failure

Hot Springs County To Prepare Emergency Plan for Boysen Dam Failure

Written by on August 1, 2022

Hot Springs County Emergency Management isn’t kidding around, sharing some sobering facts about potential disasters – and residents should stay alert.

While communities can never know when a potential disaster will happen, it can be anticipated. The Hot Springs County Local Emergency Planning Committee (L.E.P.C.) is trying to do just that, urging the public to get involved.

The Hot Springs County L.E.P.C. announced an “emergency meeting” in August. Everyone person and entity in the county is encouraged to “tale park and listen” as the committee prepares for the unthinkable.

The reason for the emergency meeting is simple but terrifying – how will Hot Springs County respond if the Boysen Dam fails?

For the record – there are no failures at the Boysen Dam, and such an event is “highly unlikely.” Nevertheless, citizens of Hot Springs County have been asking the county L.E.P.C. to develop a strategy for the disaster.

The Boysen Reservoir has a joint use capacity of 144,229 acre-feet, for a total flood capacity of 892,296 acre-feet – it’s one of the largest reservoirs in Wyoming. Thermopolis is almost 19 miles downriver of the Boysen Dam.

To encourage more participation, Hot Springs County Emergency Management described what would happen if there were an improbable dam failure.

Residents would be alerted of the disaster via phone and the Thermopolis town sirens would sound. There will only be 30 to 45 minutes to evacuate – and evacuation would be the only option.

The first water would reach Thermopolis within 40 minutes as the Bighorn River – which runs through town – begins to rise. Within three hours, the main street of Thermopolis will be under 70 feet of water.

Evacuation would be via Wyoming Highways 20 and 120. Setting up a shelter would take too much time. Seeking higher ground could leave residents stranded for a long time.

In the event of a catastrophic dam failure, all Thermopolis residents can do is get away.

Again, there is no indication that any failure is imminent at Boysen Dam. However, Hot Springs County Emergency Management says everyone should have a family plan for evacuation to ensure everyone can get out.

The Hot Springs County L.E.P.C. will hold its emergency meeting at the Thermopolis Fire Hall on Wednesday, August 10, at 1:30 p.m.

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