The US Army Corps of Engineers has changed the Mojave River Dam's risk characterization from "low" to "high urgency of action." It is a threat for hundreds of thousands of people in areas including Hesperia, Barstow, Apple Valley and Victorville.
More than 315,000 residents in those four communities in San Bernardino County are in the path should floodwaters overtake the dam which was built in 1971 near the San Bernardino Mountains. Flood waters could even reach Baker, which is more than 140 miles downstream of the dam. The rainy season, which runs from December through February, normally only brings less than 2 inches of precipitation during those three months. A storm, however, could change things. "This is a storm that is unlikely to occur, but it is nonetheless a real possibility and one we must be prepared for," Col. Aaron Barta, commander of the Corps' Los Angeles District said.
The dam has never experienced spillway flow or a flood event that has loaded the dam significantly. The 200-foot dam also has never been breached. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District owns and operates 17 dams across California, Arizona and Nevada, which collectively reduce flooding for about 7 million people and $200 billion in property.