U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites..

Information Needs for Dam Safety

Dam Safety Tools

National Dam Safety Program Information

Dams are important infrastructure for the nation, providing flood protection, water supply reservoirs, hydroelectric power, irrigation, and recreation. With over 94,000 dams in the U.S., with an average age more than 53 years, dam safety is important for the security and well-being of the communities they support.

Information needs for dam safety extend from those in Congress who set national priorities and allocate fiscal resources to those of the dam owner and engineer involved in inspections, operations and maintenance, dam safety modifications, and other day-to-day activities of maintaining safe, economically viable facilities and environmentally responsible structures.

Dam Safety Tools

A primary objective of FEMA in its leadership of the National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) is to identify, develop, and enhance technology-based tools that can help educate the public and assist decision makers. These tools are listed below.

National Dam Safety Program Annual Year in Review

The National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) is a national program that targets the improvement of dams and the safety of those who live in surrounding communities. Since it was first authorized by Congress in 1996, there have been marked improvements in the safety of many of our Nation’s dams. This is directly attributable to what NDSP has been able to achieve since its inception.

Beginning in 2012, FEMA began to highlight key NDSP accomplishments on a yearly basis to advance awareness and understanding of the important role NDSP plays to reduce risk, promote benefits, and enhance safety surrounding our Nation’s dams. The Year-in-Review provides the progress of NDSP along with important accomplishments that continue across all NDSP elements, including State assistance, research, training, and the alignment of NDSP within the emergency management and resilience frameworks.

Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice

This publication was created by the National Research Council of the National Academies. It describes a tool for assessing stakeholder engagement that can also gauge and document a community’s progress towards greater resilience. Broadening dam and levee safety programs to consider priorities in decision making can help reduce the risk of and increase community resilience to, potential dam and levee failures (2012).

National Dam Safety Program Strategic Plan (FEMA P-916)

This Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016 was developed to present the goals and objectives established by FEMA and its partners in the NDSP to reduce the hazards from dam failures and demonstrate the benefits of dams in the United States (2012).

Dam Safety Program Management Tools

An information collection and management system used by federal and state dam safety program managers to provide as-requested and periodic information on local dam safety information, program needs and accomplishments within each organization's jurisdiction.

National Inventory of Dams

A computerized database of U.S. dams used to track information on our water control infrastructure, land use management, floodplain management, risk management and emergency action planning.

National Performance of Dams Program

A national effort headquartered at Stanford University to retrieve, archive and disseminate information on dams and their performance in the United States.

National Dam Safety Program Information

Dam Safety in the United States: Progress Reports on the National Dam Safety Program

These reports describe the status of NDSP, the progress achieved by the federal agencies during the two preceding fiscal years in implementing the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety, and the progress achieved by the states participating in the Program.

National Dam Safety Program: Dam Safety in the U.S. Fact Sheet

As the lead Federal agency for the National Dam Safety Program (NDSP), FEMA is responsible for coordinating efforts to secure the safety of dams throughout the United States. The program makes Federal funds available to the States, which are primarily responsible for protecting the public from dam failures of non-Federal dams, and pursuing initiatives that enhance the safety of dams posing the greatest risk to people and property.

The National Dam Safety Program: 25 Years of Excellence

FEMA has provided leadership of the National Dam Safety Program for over 25 years. This brochure provides the general public with an overview of FEMA’s role as lead agency and the responsibilities of the federal agencies that own, regulate, operate, and maintain dams. The brochure also describes the benefits of dams, including irrigation, electric power generation, flood control, and water storage.

Many publications can be ordered from the FEMA Publications Warehouse by calling 1-800-480-2520 or emailing a request. Please provide the title, FEMA publication number and the quantity of each publication, along with your name, address, zip code and daytime telephone number.

Last updated August 19, 2020