Dam still in danger, but breach has not happened as of Friday morning

The status of a dam, located a mile south of Sabetha, in Nemaha County, Kansas, is being watched closely as the threat of a breach looms.

Nemaha County Emergency Management Director Russel Lierz told MSC News Thursday that while failure is not imminent, constant monitoring of the situation is continuing.

Sabetha City Administrator Doug Allen told MSC News a sinkhole has developed below the watershed dam, which is located above the City’s wastewater plant. “Tuesday morning we noticed it probably about 5 by 10 feet wide, and several feet down, and it’s just since been growing.

We’ve had the state water office up here helping out, and Nemaha County Preparedness has been involved. We’re just watching the hole increase all the time. Eventually they think it’s going to be a breach and it will get through. There’s been somebody from the state here all day until early evening the last three or four days.

They really don’t have a clue when it will happen, [but] the hole’s getting bigger and bigger all the time, so eventually it’s going to break through.”

Flooding would affect a small portion of the Delaware River, south of Sabetha to south of Fairview.

While no occupied Brown County structures are anticipated to be affected, those in Sabetha, in the path of potential flooding, have been notified by authorities.

According to the National Weather Service, flooding would impact U.S. Highway 36, about 3 miles south of the dam, and the Kickapoo Reservation, west of Horton, which includes the Golden Eagle Casino.

The weather service says the water could rise to near 13.8 feet at U.S. highway 36 just over an hour after a dam failure, and to near 11.2 feet at U.S. highway 75, 3 ½ hours after a failure. 

MSC News Brian Hagen contributed this report.