What to Know About the POA’s Updated Emergency Action Plan for Lake Petit

The Big Canoe POA last week submitted an updated Lake Petit Dam Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to the Safe Dams Program (SDP) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – a requirement for operating a Class 1 dam in Georgia.

Here is key info for Property Owners to know about the updated document submitted to the SDP and what it means to Big Canoe.

Q: Why are we submitting an Emergency Action Plan?

A: The owner of a Class 1 dam, such as Lake Petit Dam, is required to submit an EAP with the Georgia SDP. The POA created an “Emergency Action Plan for Petit Lake Dam” in 1998, updated it in 2007, and then asked our current Engineer of Record, Geosyntec, to update this plan again in 2017, 2018 and 2022. The latest approved plan (2018) is on file with the State of Georgia as State ID No. 112-009-00462 for Lake Petit Dam. The most recent draft revision submitted this month is under review by the SDP.

As described in the Emergency Action Plan, the document is designed to prescribe procedures, such as warning, evacuating, and protecting the public in the event of an emergency associated with the Lake Petit Dam. The plan also outlines details on notifying the appropriate emergency management agency (EMA), law enforcement bodies, and/or governing officials of unusual, potential, or imminent events that may impact the safety of the dam.

Q: Why was there a need to update the EAP?

A: Many new homes have been completed since the EAP was last approved by the state. In addition, SDP had a volume of water recorded for Lake Petit that was higher than the volume calculated from the above-water survey work performed by Geosyntec. In order to resolve this discrepancy, the POA asked Geosyntec to perform a bathymetric study using multi-beam survey technology to map the current contours of the entire Petit lakebed. The result of this work performed in the summer of 2022 is a slightly higher lake volume than previously calculated by Geosyntec. This revised volume has been accepted by SDP in writing and was used in the 2022 EAP update currently under review.

The new lake volume increases the number of affected structures in the inundation zone. When Pickens County examined the inundation map, they found a number of structures could be partially – but not entirely – affected by water from a complete dam breach. The county, therefore, elected the more conservative option of including all structures within a 100-foot buffer along the edge of the inundation zone. The result was additional properties are now included in the zone. This raised the total number of structures affected by the inundation zone

Q: What does it mean if my home is in an inundation zone?

A: An inundation zone map shows which structures would be flooded in the extremely unlikely event of a failure of a dam, such as Lake Petit Dam. The best action you can take is to register for Pickens County CodeRED, the emergency warning system used by the Pickens County EMA to notify residents of storms, fires, or flooding conditions. Pickens County has the responsibility of managing any emergency response notifications once they have been notified by the POA of a developing emergency at the dam.

Q: How will I get notified if there is a dam issue that affects my family?

A: As always, it’s best to sign up for CodeRED, the emergency notification system for Pickens County that also delivers alerts around weather events. In an emergency at the dam, the EAP would be activated and the Pickens County EMA would take over emergency response and evacuation should it be needed.

Q: What’s next for the EAP?

A: Submitted for review at the beginning of October, the 2022 EAP plan is expected to be approved by SDP this fall.

Q: How do I find out if I am in the inundation zone?
A: The inundation zone will be posted on the POA website once SDP approves the plan.

Q: Is there anything else I should do if my home is located in the inundation zone? 

A: You may wish to contact your homeowner’s insurance agent to learn what type of coverage is included in your homeowner policy and if additional coverage is available. Remember, this is not for flood insurance; being in the inundation zone would only affect your home in the extremely unlikely case of a catastrophic issue with Petit Dam.

Q: I saw a bunch of projects completed over the summer on Lake Petit Dam. What’s next?

A: As we did last year, we will have our engineer of record, Geosyntec, bring the community up to date at our annual meeting at the Chapel at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. They will review the considerable progress that has been made on the maintenance items required at the dam, and outline plans for the projects that will be taking place in 2023.


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