The Paris News from Paris, Texas on July 8, 1981 · Page 22
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The Paris News from Paris, Texas · Page 22

Paris, Texas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, July 8, 1981
Page 22
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Th» Paris N«wi, W*4>., July •. 19«1 31 Americans busy as beavers building unsafe dams and lakes By BARBARA S. MOFFET National Geographic News Service WASHINGTON - A 71- year-old judge in Alabama, a congregation of nuns in Connecticut, and a mining company in the Missouri Ozarks share a common problem: They all own dams' labeled unsafe by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The structures are only a few of more than 2,300 non federal dams declared unsafe so far by the Corps in a national inventory and inspection program begun in 1977. The investigation was ordered by President Jimmy Carter after a dam at a Bible college in Toccoa, Ga., failed, releasing 900,000 tons of water and killing 38 people. The inventory, based on voluminous records, satellite photographs, and on-site surveys, shows that Americans have been building dams at an almost frantic pace, far more prolifically than the federal government. The list "now contains more than 60,000 non-federal dams, ranging from 6-foot- high structures to dams more than 10 stories tall and impounding millions of gallons of water. Owned by states, cities, counties, private companies, schools, private clubs, church groups, and even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the dams were built for a variety of purposes, most often recreation, farm ponds back more than a century, and many were built without regard to engineering specifications. "Some of these were constructed with donated labor — shoved up with a bulldozer," said Lloyd A. Duscha, director of the dam inventory and inspection program for the Corps. Realizing that inspecting 60,000 dams would be next to impossible, the Corps has chosen to check only the 9,000 "high hazard" dams, whose location would mean considerable loss of life and property if they failed. So far, of about 7,500 dams inspected, nearly one-third have been found unsafe. Of these, 121 were labeled emergencies, meaning that and flood control. Some date collapse was imminent. "There is a time-bomb potential here," Duscha said. "It's something that has a known potential for being unsafe, compared with somebody dropping something through the roof that you don't count on." More than 100 unsafe dams have been discovered in each of four states — Missouri, Te.xas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Missouri leads with 389 unsafe dams; 42 of those were considered emergencies. Those labeled unsafe include, for example, the two Indian Creek Mine Dams, part of a lead-mining operation in the Missouri Ozarks. Finding both of these dams in emergency con- dition, Corps inspectors said failure of the Upper Indian Creek Mine Dam could trigger collapse of the even larger lower dam,-pouring 300 million gallons of water eight miles downstream and possibly washing away eight houses, a church and two road crossings. Like many states, Missouri had no dam safety laws until recently. "Anyone who wanted to could build a dam out of any material, in any way he wanted, at any potential cost to those downstream," said Dr. Bruce Tschantz, professor " of civil engineering at the University of Tennessee and a consultant to the government on dam safety. Three states — Alabama, Delaware, and Hawaii — still have no laws covering dam safety. The programs of 17 others are considered inadequate by the Corps, and those in many other states limp along for lack of funding. When the Corps inspection program concludes this Septemer, many states apparently plan to go back to ignoring their private dams. "Most states seem willing to implement and maintain effective dam safety programs only if federally funded," a recent Corps report stated. And there's no guarantee that the dams already labeled unsafe will be fixed or even further investigated. Most owners — some of them impoverished municipalities — claim they have no money for such repairs. (The government estimates repair costs at $100,000 to $500,000 per dam.) Dam owners who tinker with their dams rather than hiring an engineer for repairs can make things worse. "We've run across people trying to fix their dams by throwing in old tires, and they're really hindering the flow of water more than anything," said engineer Fred Thompson of the Corps' Mobile, Ala., district. ' What to do next is a matter between state governments and the dam owners, the Corps asserts. Professor Tschantz agrees the dams should be states' Del Monte Peaches Sliced Or Halves Yellow Cling 29 oz CarT pg Food Or 'Cat Food Mighty Dog Dog Food Friskies Cat Food All Varieties Jell-O Gelatin All Flavors 3 $*f 3 oz Boxes iflH FOOD TOMATO iS Contadma Tomato Sauce 8 oz Cans Brands Sale! \memil Tuna Chicken Of The Sea *$•„• D«l Monte v lSweetPeas Del Monte Spinach SWEET i17 oz Can Chopped Or Leaf 15 oz Can* Chunk Light Oil Or ^Water Packl 6.5 oz Can J-imit 2 Cans With $10 Or More* Additional Purchases-All Others Reg Price Frozen Foods-- Easy To Prepare Mexican Favorites Tasty Bakery Delights Cob Corn Green Giant Fried Chicken Banquet Nibbler Pkg Ol 6 Orange Juice 99 c Retried Beans Del Monte 165 2 Lb Box Potatoes Ore Ida Crinkle C-jt 80 oz Bag Pie Shells Rp £ 10 o ZP k g 69 c Totino's Single Serve 9o2$459 ..Combination Or Sausage ....Ctn * 49 17.5 oz Can DelMon Burrito Filling 17 ot Can u; v Del Monte MIX Del Monte Taco Mild Or Hot 8 oz Jar Del Monte Enchilada Mild Or Mot 11 02 Jar Ja tape no /k|.;|.-. 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Lite KQ< ..16ozCanliw These Savings Good 6 Days: Thurs, July 9 Thru Wed, July 15 Quantity Rights Reserved None Sold To Dealers PARIS MONDAY - SATURDAY 1128 CLARKSVILLE 7 A.M. - 9 P.M. J inute Rice $199 28 <*_•_ 2V On Box. ••§ Label .STEAMED SESAME TUNA—• I CM 112'i «] chunk lifhl tvni Witii 1 b* wum< tettt. lulled ] tUlk |i«n onion, 2 topi i«f OKI chopptd 1 tbt*t WftUMi ml « CKineM pinltj loi Hum* pritiili Drain tuna. Turn tuna into a heat-proof shallow dish set over a rack in a skillet tilled with about': inch ol water. Cover and steam tuna about 5 minutes. Toss in sesame seeds, freen onion and soy sauce. Heat oil and carefuly pour over tuna. Garnish with parsley. Makes 4 servings. .'. BAOOKSHIAES The "More For Your Money" Store! responsibilites. "But if the federal government has helped build the dam, either with funds or technical assistance, it should have a responsibility," he said. Thousands of these dams, Tschantz pointed out, were built with the help of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. A chilling episode in the history of private dams haunts people charged with their safety. On Feb. 26, 1972, in the Appalachian mining community of Buffalo Creek, W. Va., a waste pile serving as a dam owned by the Buffalo Mining Company suddenly gave way. The collapse released a lake of black water — 132 million gallons of liquid thick with coal dust and other byproducts of the mining operation that roared through the mountain hollow, scraping up thousands of tons of other debris in a churning wave. A survivor of the flood described the scene in "Everything In Its Path," by Kai T. Erikson: "Down below there was a huge amount of water. It looked like a river passing by so fast. It was going so fast I couldn't believe what was happening. I could see houses — some were broken up and some looked like whole houses still in good shape — just floating down this water. Some were going real fast, smashing into each other, and people were screaming." The final toll was 125 dead, hundreds of people hurt, and hundreds of homes destroyed. Some survivors lived in government trailers for years afterwards,and the once close-knit community never fully recovered. "Buffalo Creek really isn't a place anymore," Erikson now observes. "It's just a memory being carried around by some people." Iff you spell it, you can dial it CINCINNATI <AP) — Roger Obermeyer wanted a way to make his name noticed in the city telephone book, so the advertising executive has himself listed as Zerba Zzyx, the last name in the directory. It was a matter of convenience, money and distinction for Obermeyer, 37, who runs his agency, Obel Productions, from Zzyx's address. "If people ever forget my name, I can always tell them I'm the last number in the book," he said. Obermeyer formerly lived in California, where Zzyx.' was born. "There is a road that runs between Los Angeles and Las Vegas called Zzyx Road — yes,''it actually does exist — and it stuck in my mind," Obermeyer said. The first name Zerba is a take-off from Zorba the Greek. • Although the listing has its advantages, being last isn't always best. Crank calls are part of the distinction. "They usually start about 2:30 or 3 (p.m.), right when school lets out, or late at night, when people are sitting around getting high or whatever," Obermeyer said. Cincinnati Bell has a policy not to "put fake names in the directory," said company spokesman Jerry Wright. But "we'll take their word for it. With a residential customer, we're not particularly going to challenge them." Talking machine foils robbery NEW ORLEANS (AP)— Police here say a talking pinball machine was the hero in a foiled armed robbery attempt over the weekend. Officer William Panter said the would-be robber approached a cashier at a Canal Street convenience store late Sunday, drew a pistol from his waistband and barked, "Give it up!" At just that moment, a pinball machine located behind him growled out its pre-recorded message: "I want you to play me." The robber, who could see no one behind him, was so flabbergasted,. police said, that he cursed and fled — empty-handed. <, '•f

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