Dam Failure

Of the roughly 91.000 dams in the United States, the 14 that could impact Ventura County are located right here, and in neighboring Los Angeles County. Dams are useful for the storage and safe retention of large quantities of water that can be released or used for irrigation, hydropower, recreation, water supply, and flood prevention. They may be owned and operated by public agencies or special districts. It is the dam operator’s responsibility to actively reduce the risk of failures. Here’s how you can be prepared.


Five Ways to


  • 1 Have a Family Emergency Plan, including communication and evacuations. Talk with neighbors who might need assistance.
  • 2 Find out more about the dams in your area here.
  • 3 Map an evacuation route to higher ground.
  • 4 Keep drains clear of debris. Notify your local public works department of drainage problems in public areas.
  • 5 Register for VC Alert to receive notifications regarding dam hazards.

Four Ways to

Save the Day

  • 1 Be aware of excessive rainfall, overflow spillage or unusual water releases.
  • 2 If flooding occurs due to dam failure, do not walk through fast-moving water. It can sweep you off your feet!
  • 3 Avoid driving in flooded areas. Six inches of water is enough to stall a car and just one foot of water can carry it away.
  • 4 Don’t get charged up! Avoid downed power lines as they may still be buzzing with electricity.

Three Things to


  • 1 The most common causes of dam failure are spillway blockage, natural settling/sinkholes, and maintenance issues.
  • 2 Ventura County is home to 10 of the nearly 80,000 nationwide dams, and there are four dams in Los Angeles County that could potentially impact Ventura County.
  • 3 The United Water Conservation District conducts a test of the Santa Felicia Dam's emergency siren at Lake Piru on the first Friday of each month at noon. If needed, the siren would warn people downstream of an unexpected release or dam failure.

Two Things to

Ease Your Mind


Francis Dam, 1928 post-collapse Photo Courtesy of the Museum of Ventura County.

One Question to Ask Yourself

Right Now

  • 1 Am I in an inundation zone? Find out here.

Did you know...

That Dams have Different Owners/Operators?


Get Started on Your Emergency Kit

Don't wait until an emergency happens, when it's too late! Ready Ventura County makes it easy for you to create a kit that's just right for your household. Use our plan builder to get started today.