Contractors working for Xcel Energy will install solar-powered warning sirens along the lower Red Cedar River in Dunn County in the coming weeks.
Xcel Energy says the sirens would be used to quickly and safely alert nearby people if there was a catastrophic failure at one of the company’s hydroelectric dams that caused water to rise rapidly downstream.
The sirens will be attached to 55-goot poles and installed in two locations downstream of Xcel Energy’s Menomine Hydroelectric Project on the lower Red Cedar River.
"While a major dam failure is unlikely, today’s technology allows us to install sirens that include a distinct tone and voice message that can quickly and safely warn residents downstream of our hydroelectric facilities," said Matt Miller, Xcel Energy’s Emergency Action Planning coordinator.
In the event of a dam failure, Xcel Energy says the sequence would be:
1. Whoop tone for 10 seconds.
2. “Attention! An upstream dam has failed. Remain calm and seek higher ground
immediately. Expect rapidly rising waters. Please evacuate to a safe area immediately!”
(repeat three times with five second delay between messages).
3. Whoop tone for 60 seconds.
4. Repeat for 30 minutes or until warning is cancelled.
In October, Xcel Energy installed warning sirens along the Namekagon River in Washburn County. In December 2011, nine sirens were installed at locations between Cornell and Eau Claire.