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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5026

In cooperation with the city of Lawton

Dam-Breach Analysis and Flood-Inundation Mapping for Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka near Lawton, Oklahoma

By Samuel H. Rendon, Chad E. Ashworth, and S. Jerrod Smith

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (29.6 MB)Abstract

Dams provide beneficial functions such as flood control, recreation, and reliable water supplies, but they also entail risk: dam breaches and resultant floods can cause substantial property damage and loss of life. The State of Oklahoma requires each owner of a high-hazard dam, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency defines as dams for which failure or misoperation probably will cause loss of human life, to develop an emergency action plan specific to that dam. Components of an emergency action plan are to simulate a flood resulting from a possible dam breach and map the resulting downstream flood-inundation areas. The resulting flood-inundation maps can provide valuable information to city officials, emergency managers, and local residents for planning the emergency response if a dam breach occurs.

Accurate topographic data are vital for developing flood-inundation maps. This report presents results of a cooperative study by the city of Lawton, Oklahoma, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to model dam-breach scenarios at Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka near Lawton and to map the potential flood-inundation areas of such dam breaches. To assist the city of Lawton with completion of the emergency action plans for Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka Dams, the USGS collected light detection and ranging (lidar) data that were used to develop a high-resolution digital elevation model and a 1-foot contour elevation map for the flood plains downstream from Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka. This digital elevation model and field measurements, streamflow-gaging station data (USGS streamflow-gaging station 07311000, East Cache Creek near Walters, Okla.), and hydraulic values were used as inputs for the dynamic (unsteady-flow) model, Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS). The modeled flood elevations were exported to a geographic information system to produce flood-inundation maps. Water-surface profiles were developed for a 75-percent probable maximum flood scenario and a sunny-day dam-breach scenario, as well as for maximum flood-inundation elevations and flood-wave arrival times for selected bridge crossings. Some areas of concern near the city of Lawton, if a dam breach occurs at Lakes Ellsworth or Lawtonka, include water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, recreational areas, and community-services offices.

First posted June 1, 2012

For additional information contact:
Director, Oklahoma Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
202 NW 66th, Bldg 7
Oklahoma City, OK 73116

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Suggested citation:

Rendon, S.H., Ashworth, C.E., and Smith, S.J., 2012, Dam-breach analysis and flood-inundation mapping for Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka near Lawton, Oklahoma: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5026, 56 p.




Purpose and Scope

Description of Lakes Ellsworth and Lawtonka

Dam-Breach Analysis

Flood-Inundation Mapping

Sources of Uncertainty in Flood-Inundation Maps

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

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