A national panel of engineers assembled to review the cause of the Lake Delhi dam breach in July held a public briefing in Manchester Thursday afternoon. Bill Fiedler is one of the engineers on the panel. He works for the U.S. Department of the Interior and says they started their work looking at information before getting to Iowa on Tuesday.

Fiedler says they spent the whole week in the area reviewing more records, and they went to the dam to look at it, along with looking at other upstream damns. He says their mission is to get as much information as they can to use in writing their report, which they plan to have completed by December first. Fiedler says the information they sought this week focused on the history of the dam, background of the dam’s condition, physical observations on how the dam performed and the sequence of events leading up to the breach.

Neil Schwanz of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Wayne King of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are the other two engineers on the panel. All three have decades of experience working with dams. Fiedler says the three spent the week interviewing members of the Lake Delhi Association, the D.N.R., emergency management officials and others. He says they would still like to hear more if anyone has things to add.

Fiedler says they are open to listening to anybody that might have some input that could help them in coming up with their report. Local residents who have any photos or videos from the hours immediately before or after the dam’s failure are encouraged to share those with the panel by contacting the D.N.R. The panel will now go back and start working through the information they’ve gathered.

Fielder says they will do some more analysis and run some scenarios about what might have happened if conditions were different at the dam. He says they’ll ultimately come to some conclusions on what they thought caused the breech of the dam, and maybe some suggestions for the future. The dam breach caused the nine-mile lake to drain away and left over 300 people with damaged or destroyed homes. Fiedler says the panel’s focus is limited to the cause of the breach.

By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester