In the morning of December 14th, 2005, the upper reservoir of the Taum Sauk Pumped Storage Project near Lesterville, Missouri, USA, was overtopped during the final pumping cycle. Overtopping of the 10 ft high parapet wall and subsequent failure of the rockfill embankment formed a breach about 720 feet wide at the top of the rockfill dam and 430 feet at the base. The breach widened quickly, and complete evacuation of the 4,350 acre-ft upper reservoir occurred within about 25 minutes.
This 3 hour course provides instruction in engineering ethics through a case study of the Taum Sauk failure. The interaction between decisions made in the original design process in the 1960s and errors made in installing new water-level control instrumentation in 2004 is discussed in detail.