Dam Disasters: 11,300 State-regulated Dams at High-Risk

May 18, 2016



It's Infrastructure 2016 Week and the Huffington Post's timely article "America’s Crumbling Dams Are A Disaster Waiting To Happen" details the grave condition the nation's dams are in and why we should care.

Dams that once were considered low-risk because they were located in unpopulated areas are now surrounded by homes and roads, bringing them up to the high-risk category.

Add some aging and climate change, and the high-risk dams become killers waiting to act.

John France, a dam and hydropower engineer at the consulting firm AECOM, says the water bill before Congress would represent a “modest amount of money to help provide some support to help repair some of the publicly owned dams,” but that federal money doesn't cover privately owned dams.

You see, federal agencies don't own or control most of the country's dams. That means the U.S. government can't require owners to update their facilities. With the exception of Alabama, there are dam safety agencies in each state, but they each have their own agendas, power, and priorities.

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials gives the nation's dams a D+ rating and say it could cost $54 billion over the next five years to rehabilitate the dams. About half of that money would need to be spent on the high-risk structures first.

We've seen what happens when levees break. Read the rest of the Huffington Post article here:

National Dam Safety Awareness Day Is May 31st, commemorating the South Fork Dam failure in Johnstown, Pennsylvania when over 2,200 people lost their lives.