Alabama Power’s dam safety department spends each day making sure dams across the state are stable and maintained to protect residents living nearby.
Regular inspections of water-retaining structures are conducted by trained plant staff, dam safety engineers and independent dam safety experts, with robust emergency action plans in place.
A recent safety tabletop exercise for Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River allowed employees and representatives from other agencies to simulate what could happen if an emergency occurred.
“These exercises are an opportunity to coordinate with state and local emergency management authorities and other entities to review what we will do and how we will communicate with each other if something happens,” said Richard Mickwee, dam safety and surveillance supervisor for Alabama Power’s hydroelectric fleet. “We hold these meetings so we can all be prepared to keep the public protected should an actual event occur.”
It also gives the safety team a chance to see how effective its plans are and areas where it can improve.
This was the first in-person dam safety exercise Alabama Power has hosted since the pandemic began. An exercise planned for 2020 was cancelled, while a virtual exercise was held in 2021.
“Over the last two years, we’ve found some things work better virtually, but tabletop exercises aren’t one of them,” said Alabama Power Engineer Seth Green. “You just can’t replicate the in-person conversations.”
Alabama Power employees, members of the National Weather Service, county and state emergency management agencies, representatives from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama Department of Public Health, Poarch Band of Creek Indians Emergency Management and others participated in the daylong simulation.