Dam Failures in January

Please Add to the blog of Dam Disasters that occurred in January.

“Lower Otay Dam Disaster – United States (1916) – Death Toll: 40


The Lower Otay Dam constructed on Otay River is situated in San Diego County, California, United States. Its purpose was to serve as a large water reservoir.

In January 1916, after a heavy rain spell hit on the southern region of California, the dam topped up and started releasing water. Unfortunately no proper rescue measures were taken and the reservoir emptied causing great damage in the nearby areas.”

via Top 15 Worst Dam Disasters Ever.

The dam failed at the right abutment on 27 January 1916.  It was a earth and rock fill dam with a steel core.

“Lower Otay Lake and Dam is a rock fill structure with a massive masonry pour as a base for the steel plates. The steel plates, riveted together, acted as a diaphragm to control seepage and can be seen at the middle of the dam. A pyramid formed by the steel members during construction was used as a crane to move rock, steel and concrete to their proper location in the structure. Explosives were used to break rock into smaller units for use in the dam. As an example of the effect of blasting, records show that 100,000 pounds of powder loosened 150,000 tons of rock.”


3 thoughts on “Dam Failures in January

  1. The Sweetwater dam failed on January 30, 1916. San Diego county also. The reservoir overtopped the dam by approximately 3.5 feet. Material was eroded around the structure that allowed two-thirds of the reservoir to be drained. Notice the 2 men standing on the crest while watching water pass thru the failed right abutment.

    Failed at Right Abutment

  2. Quail Creek Dam, Utah
    1 January 1989

    Just after midnight on January 1, 1989, the Quail Lake Dike collapsed and a 200-foot break occurred in the 1,820 foot long dike. More than 25,000 acre-feet of water was released into the Virgin River Channel. That flood damaged 50 to 60 homes and 100 apartment units, forcing 1,500 people from their residences.

    Failed Dike

    WC Historical District

    WC Water Conservation District

    WC Water Quality

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