Reclamation Exercises Emergency Action Plan for Elephant Butte and Caballo Dams

Media Contact: Rebecca Onchaga, (505) 462-3598

For Release: September 22, 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation today hosted a multi-agency, multi-state exercise to prepare all facets of a response to an emergency situation at Elephant Butte and Caballo Dams in southern New Mexico.

The simulated event assumed full reservoirs at Elephant Butte and Caballo and significant rain events over a short period of time throughout the area.

The Bureau of Reclamation is required to perform these exercises of its emergency response plans every three years. Federal dam owners are required to develop and implement an effective Emergency Action Plan for dams in areas where a significant number of people live in the flood plain below the dam. Both dams are inspected and carefully evaluated annually and neither have any current safety issues.

"These emergency exercises are a key part of our safety program. While we hope we never encounter such an emergency, it's important to test our Emergency Action Plans and ensure that not only the Reclamation, but all neighboring communities and emergency responders are prepared for an emergency," said Mike Hamman, Reclamation Albuquerque Area Office Manager. "These exercises provide a great training opportunity for all involved."

Sierra County and the city of El Paso activated their emergency operation centers as part of the exercise. These emergency exercises are also meant to help all participants to understand their roles and responsibilities in emergency management.

A series of planning meetings were held in preparation for this exercise. In addition to Bureau of Reclamation staff, other participants included the state of New Mexico, National Weather Service, Sierra County, the city of El Paso, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico State Police, the International Boundary Water Commission, Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District #1, and Dona Ana County.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.