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Keeping Lake Wateree Dam safe amid Kershaw County earthquakes

The dams are regularly inspected in person and by several devices located in the water.

KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. — Kershaw County has seen over sixty earthquakes since December, and the Lake Wateree Dam is only several miles away from where most earthquakes have occurred in Elgin. 

The Lake Wateree Dam is made up of two components: an earthen dam created from rock and clay and a concrete dam. 

Having these dams right near the epicenter of earthquakes makes several residents curious about the area's stability. 

Ben Williamson with Duke Energy says, "We've got robust maintenance and inspection programs in place to ensure the integrity of those dams." 

Williamson says inspections are regular but earthen dams require more than concrete dams. 

"There's two at Wateree, a concrete dam, and an earthen dam at Wateree, which we inspect every two weeks. Our concrete dams we inspect quarterly, but let me say with that, when you have an instance like what we've seen in South Carolina recently, we can do additional inspections in two different cases -- one, if we get 2 inches of water or more in a 24-hour time period and then secondly, we will do an additional inspection if we have a felt seismic event," Williamson said. 

RELATED: Town of Elgin to host meeting to talk about earthquakes

The most recent inspection was this past weekend. 

"We have inspected Wateree quite consistently, we do visual inspections, right, these people are at these dams all the time so they look for anything that doesn't look like it did before an event, right, they'll look at things like seepage, they'll look at water level monitors inside these dams that monitor, you know, the activity that's happening inside to make sure if anything has shifted, we have an entire team dedicated simply to our dam structures and making sure they're safe. Again, we are regulated by federal agencies to keep these dams safe," Williamson said.

Williamson said if more seismic events occur they will continue to check the dam.

RELATED: What's with all the earthquakes? DHEC has some answers

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