Map: Utah has more than 200 ‘high hazard’ dams. Here’s where they are and what that means.

A high hazard rating doesn’t reflect the condition of a dam — rather, the consequences of it breaking.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pineview Dam, pictured on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, is a high risk dam but not because of its condition but because of the potential damage that would be caused by a breach.

On Monday evening, the owners of the Panguitch Lake Dam discovered a problem. Ice pressure and high water cracked the dam, The Tribune reported.

That damage led the sheriff’s office to ask the nearly 2,000 people living in Panguitch to prepare for potential evacuation. As of Thursday morning, the chances of the dam actually breaking were slim.

[Related: Officials more confident about Panguitch dam holding | What we know about the damage]

But you may be wondering, are there other dams in Utah that are of concern?

Utah has 223 high hazard dams that are regulated by the state — but not all of them are necessarily in bad condition. The remainder are regulated by the federal government.

A dam’s rating is based on the consequences, not condition. If a high hazard dam broke, people would likely die. A dam is considered a “moderate hazard” if its failure would result in significant property loss but not death and “low hazard” if there would be some property damage.

You can explore the Utah Division of Water Rights data and maps in greater depth here.

In a legislative hearing last June, Teresa Wilhelmsen, state engineer and director of the Division of Water Rights, told lawmakers that there were 81 high-hazard dams not up to the state’s standards. On average it costs the state $4.5 million to upgrade one dam.

At current funding levels of about $3.8 million a year it could take about 120 years to update all the dams in the state.

“The Legislature has been really good over the last several years at providing additional funding to help expedite those rehabilitations,” said Everett Taylor, assistant state engineer over Dam Safety for the Division of Water Rights.

The Division just completed two projects — including the Sevier Bridge Dam — and “there are 23 that are in some phase of design of or construction to receive upgrades,” Taylor said.

Part of the problem is that many dams built during the same era are approaching the end of their design life.

But the other part is that “our high hazards are increasing a lot from population growth into areas where dams have been built, that didn’t have population,” Taylor said, “and now there is population and so the consequences of failure now is increased.”