UTAH FLOOD WATCH

Panguitch Lake dam has a growing crack, residents on notice to evacuate

Apr 10, 2024, 7:33 AM | Updated: Apr 12, 2024, 2:32 pm

A screenshot from the Utah Division of Natural Resources website shows information about Panguitch ...

A screenshot from the Utah Division of Natural Resources website shows information about Panguitch Lake. (Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah — Some people in Garfield County are on standby to evacuate this morning because of growing concerns about a crack in the Panguitch Lake Dam.

A significant break in that dam could send half of the lake into the town. Officials have declared a Level 2 Emergency Situation.

 

“There’s an upper portion of the dam that has sustained some damage from the ice,” Sgt. Tom Talbot told KSL TV.

While the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office did not say how large the crack is, Newsweek reported that it measures 60 feet. 

Deputies say damage to the dam is not yet severe enough to warrant immediate evacuations, but residents are urged to check those emergency kits just in case.

They’ve also closed access to the lake and a portion of SR143. The city is working to lower lake levels as the level two emergency continues.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook saying the Garfield County Road Department has made progress on building a buttress. 

What is a Level 2 emergency situation for Panguitch Lake?

When officials say there’s a “Level 2 Emergency situation” it means that there’s a potential for the dam to fail. 

“While there is no immediate threat to public safety, the situation could rapidly evolve,” wrote the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook. “We are closely monitoring the dam and are prepared to escalate our response if necessary.”

If the emergency gets worse, or officials raise it to a Level 3, evacuations will likely start happening. 

How to stay informed

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office says it will communicate on social media, via reverse 911 calls to phone numbers in the area, and local news. 

In the meantime, it encourages those who may be affected to familiarize themselves with their evacuation plan and routes. The main evacuation route proceeds east toward Hatch. 

What’s the general flooding threat?

Utah’s reservoirs aren’t hurting. They’re actually sitting at mostly 84% full.

Reservoirs stand in the way of spring runoff and can help prevent preventing flooding. When the reservoirs are more full, there’s less room to catch overflowing water. 

“There is a little bit less room, so [reservoir managers] have to be a little more careful and a little more aware,” Haskell told KSL NewsRadio.

Panguitch Lake is currently sitting at over 87% capacity. That’s good news for a drought but also complicates things. 

Reservoirs are basically the thing in between spring runoff and flooding. When they’re full, there’s less room to catch excess water. 

“There is a little bit less room, so [reservoir managers] have to be a little more careful and a little more aware,” said Laura Haskell, drought coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Resources, to KSL NewsRadio a few weeks ago.

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Panguitch Lake dam has a growing crack, residents on notice to evacuate