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Media Alert


Press Release


Panguitch Lake Dam (Updated 4/15/24)

Wednesday April 10, 2024

UPDATE: April 22, 2024, 2:00 pm

As spring runoff has increased the water flow of Panguitch Creek, the creek is handling the increased levels well. There have not been any significant issues downstream of Panguitch Lake Dam as crews continue to release water to bring the level below the affected area.  Water is still leaking from the face of the dam, but it has decreased dramatically.  The water level is down over 26 inches from its initial measurement and close to 41 inches from the top of the dam. Crews will continue to monitor the spring runoff as we approach peak runoff season.

UPDATE: April 15, 2024, 12:00 p.m.

Officials leading the response efforts at the Panguitch Lake Dam Incident continue to see progress from their work to reduce the risk there. The lake level has dropped a total of 15 inches from its original level last Tuesday. The assistant state engineer expects to draw down the lake by the end of this week to a level where the dam wall can be visually inspected and additional repairs made, as needed.

24/7 monitoring is occurring through remote video feed to the Garfield County Dispatch Center. Personnel from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, West Panguitch Irrigation Company, and Utah Division of Water Rights continue to visually inspect the dam three times a day. Over the weekend high winds blew ice against the dam wall, but equipment operators removed the ice. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will issue tickets for trespassing to anyone found in the area beyond the closure signs, with the exception of owners of cabin properties between closure signs.

Crews are clearing ditches and canals to try to handle the additional water being sent downstream from Panguitch Lake, however, some surface level flooding is occurring in low lying pastures and corrals. People in the areas of those rivers and streams are encouraged to keep their children and pets away due to the danger from extremely cold, high, and fast-moving waters.

UPDATE: April 12, 2024, 12:00 pm

The mitigation efforts at the Panguitch Lake Dam continue to make positive progress on conditions there.  Initial stabilization efforts have been completed by extending rock rip-rap across the face of the affected section of the dam. Ice along the upstream face of the dam has been removed. If winds drive ice toward the dam, crews will break and remove it. Efforts to lower the water level continue by releasing as much water as possible. As of Friday morning, water levels have dropped 8 inches since controlled releases began. The plan is to reduce the water elevation in the reservoir until it is below the affected section so that a full assessment of the dam can be made. 

The evacuation notice to the residents of Panguitch City and surrounding areas is lifted. Authorities urge community members to stay informed should situations change. Should conditions evolve, information would be disseminated to the public through local media, social media, and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Website. Individuals can subscribe to receive Garfield County Sheriff’s Office alerts at Although the conditions have been lifted, residents in affected areas are encouraged to remain in a heightened condition of readiness. For those citizens still wishing to get prepared, sand and sandbags are available at the local LDS church house at 550 South 100 West, Panguitch, UT.

“I am confident with the results of our mitigation efforts to effectively reduce the pressure on the Panguitch Lake dam and the potential for an uncontrolled release. That work allows us to lift the evacuation notice, but I do urge people to stay prepared for this and other types of hazards,” says Garfield County Sheriff Eric Houston, Incident Commander for the Panguitch Lake incident. “I want to thank the community for their positive response, support, and patience as we have worked through this situation. I especially appreciate the communication, collaboration, and efforts provided by all of our response partners as well.”

SR-143 has been reopened to regular traffic.  There will be certain areas that will remain closed or are being monitored.  

  • North Shore Road is closed except for property owners between the boat ramp and SR-143. 
  • The area surrounding the Panguitch Lake Dam will also remain closed to all unauthorized personnel due to unsafe conditions. 
  • Due to high and swift water, Marilyn Bulkley Park near Panguitch City is closed.
  • Ice fishing on Panguitch Lake is not permitted. With the water level being reduced, ice conditions could be dangerous.
  • Use caution near Panguitch Creek. Increased water released from the dam has increased the risk of high, swift water.  Please watch children and pets and keep them away from the creek. Turn around, don’t drown. Further flood preparedness information can be found at

With the risk of a potential failure significantly reduced, authorities will continue monitoring conditions 24/7. Because spring runoff has begun, the Division of Water Rights staff engineers will continue to be on-site daily and work with the Sheriff’s Office and the dam owner to plan for the anticipated runoff. Once those levels have subsided, engineering and plans will be developed for permanent repairs to the affected area of Panguitch Lake Dam.

This and all other information related to the Panguitch Lake Dam incident can be found at

UPDATE: April 11, 2024 3:00 pm

Panguitch Lake mitigation measures that have been implemented have so far been effective.  The water level at the dam has dropped close to 6 inches over the last two days since the measures were implemented. Authorities are still planning to lower the water level by several feet over the next 7-9 days but feel greatly encouraged by the progress. 

Crews have been adding the final supporting materials to the back of the expansion section, which should be completed by Thursday afternoon.  At the same time, they are using an excavator to remove large chunks of ice that had previously been pushing against the expansion section.

These efforts have helped relieve pressure on the expansion section, allowing the concrete section to rebound from an 8-degree tilt to just over a 1-degree.  This has greatly improved the dam’s stability until permanent modifications can be made.

Residents of Panguitch City and the surrounding areas are still encouraged to be alert and ready as a precaution in case situations change. Sandbags are available through Panguitch City to residents who would like them. 

No infrastructure has been damaged or lost. Only minor washouts have occurred due to the increased water flow in Panguitch Creek and area ditches and canals.  Those issues were managed and controlled as they arose.  

SR-143 will remain closed from the Panguitch City limits South to approximately 1 mile past the dam location.  This will be re-evaluated tomorrow to determine if it is safe to reopen to regular traffic.

UPDATE 4/10/24 9:00 PM

Crews have trenched several cuts across the ice which has helped to relieve ice pressure pushing on the dam. They have also added rock to the downstream side to support the dam wall. These measures have helped to change the tilt of the expanded section from 8 degrees to 2 degrees.

Panguitch City Community Meeting

Initial Incident Information:

On Monday evening, April 9, 2024, members of the West Panguitch Irrigation and Reservoir Company observed a potential issue with the dam at Panguitch Lake during an inspection.  Crews inspected the dam and found that due to high water levels and ice pressure, a 2-5 foot expansion section of the Panguitch Lake Dam has started to tilt as well as developed some cracking, causing concern that the top 2-5 feet of the dam section could be compromised. 

The main portion of the dam is intact.  The affected area is an expansion that was added to the top of the dam in the 1930s/40s.  If a failure did occur, only this top 2-5 feet would likely breach.  A complete dam breach is not likely or anticipated.

As of now, the breach risk is at a level 2 of 3 levels, as designated by the irrigation company.
Level 1 – Unusual event, Level 2 – Potential dam failure situation, Level 3 – Urgent: Dam failure imminent. 

Authorities continue to monitor the situation and are taking mitigating measures to prevent a failure of this section.

Current Mitigation Measures:

  • Releasing water to lower the level of the lake. At the current rate of incoming and outgoing water, it could take 8 to 10 days to get the water below the affected area.
  • Material will be added to the dam to support affected dam sections.
  • Trenching the reservoir ice to relieve pressure on the top section of the dam.
  • Clearing water pathways to prevent any debris fields and stream overflows.

If a breach were to occur, homes and properties on the Western portion of Panguitch could be affected by flood waters.  Traffic and evacuation plans have been established and are included below if a failure occurs.

Panguitch City is still fully functioning, open for business, and not under evacuation orders.

The Utah Department of Public Safety is assisting Garfield County, Panguitch City, and other state departments to disseminate information, provide traffic control, and coordinate community activities.

Community Information:

A community Meeting will be held tonight at Panguitch High School to answer questions and disseminate information.  Members of Panguitch City and the surrounding area are invited to attend in person or live stream at the link below.

Time: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at 6:00 pm. 

Location: Panguitch High School Gymnasium

390 East 100 South

Panguitch, UT 84759

Live Stream Link:

We ask our media partners to assist in sharing this community meeting information. 

Media Availablity:

PIOs are available for interviews at the Garfield County Building, located at 740 US-89, Panguitch, Ut.



Hillary Koellner
Director of Public Affairs
Department of Public Safety


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