Exercise will test dam safety emergency coordination

By Jason Miller

Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, the Departments of Emergency Management from Skagit and Whatcom counties, and emergency responders from both counties will participate in a dam safety exercise March 16.

“Our goal is to increase efficiency in setting up the emergency coordination center to provide resources to the community in the event a major emergency or disaster occurs,” Skagit County Emergency Management Director Mark Anderson said. “By participating in this drill with Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy, we are able to evaluate our performance.”

Participants will respond in real time to scenarios presented by the exercise, which is designed to practice coordination among the agencies and emergency response, and how to effectively share critical information with the public. The exercise will run from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Participants will use radios and note that their conversations are part of the exercise in case anyone is monitoring on a scanner.

All cities and towns that would be affected by a dam emergency will participate in the exercise. In Concrete, town staff and Mayor Jason Miller will be involved. Hamilton, Lyman, and Sedro-Woolley also will participate to varying degrees.

Seattle City Light operates three dams at its Skagit Hydroelectric Project on the Skagit River. Puget Sound Energy operates two dams at its Baker River Hydroelectric Project in Concrete. The Baker River is a tributary of the Skagit River.

Federal operating licenses for the dams require City Light and PSE to hold dam safety exercises at least once every five years. By collaborating on a full-scale exercise with nearby emergency management agencies, the utilities are meeting their regulatory requirements and supporting preparedness efforts throughout the area.

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