Preston County Dam: 'High hazard'

REEDSVILLE, W.Va (WDTV) - 'High hazard.'

That's how a dam in Preston County is classified. The dam itself isn't necessarily a failure but if it were to fail, it has the potential to create significant damage in the surrounding area.

"If anything were to happen to the dam, if it were to fail, it could cause significant property damage and loss of life," said Brian Farkas, the Executive Director of the West Virginia Conservation Agency.

Farkas was one of many at the WVU Research Farm in Reedsville on Monday morning. The purpose? To break ground on a rehabilitation project for a flood-control dam that's about 50 years old.

"Not that the dam is imminent a failure, it's just that people are now moving in downstream," Farkas said.

The WVCA says the Upper Deckers Creek Site 1 Dam is one of 169 in the Mountain State classified as high hazard.

Mike Adams lives a few miles away in Arthurdale. He's also on the board of the Public Service District No. 1. He knows this dam and water system quite well.

"In '85, this dam actually crest over the top in '85 and it was a concern, but most people don't understand that it's even here, so the dangers takes pretty much all the Valley District area off the map if it would overflow and break," said Adams.

Now that crews broke ground on the project, it has eliminated some of the fear.

"For me, it gives me assurance," Adams said. "Assurance that we're doing the right thing and we're moving in the right direction to make sure that nothing happens to our community."

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt was also on hand.

"Government can't stop natural disasters," he said. "But they can do things to help prevent and make human suffering less, and that's a perfect role for government."