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Information Needs for Dam Safety

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 (2015).

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.

Last updated Aug 2, 2020

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