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Safety Tips for Dam Owners

Accessing and using resources and guidance on dam safety is key to successful dam ownership. Dam Owner 101 was developed to introduce important concepts dam owners should be aware of and provide additional resources to access more detailed information.

Dam Safety Concepts

Visit Dam Safety Concepts to review overarching important concepts, such as hazard potential classification and responsibilities and liability, and access resources to learn more.

Types of Dams and Failure Modes

Identifying the type of dam you are responsible for and understanding potential failure modes for that type of dam is an important first step to improve dam safety. Equally important is knowing the warning signs for failure modes and how to effectively respond to them.

Visit Types of Dams and Failure Modes to access resources to help identify dam type and learn about failure modes and conditions to watch for during inspection.

Activities to Increase Dam Risk Awareness and Preparedness

Dam owners can undertake several planning and preparedness activities that may help them better understand the risk related to their dam and improve emergency response actions. Activities such as conducting risk assessments, preparing emergency response plans, and identifying infrastructure in the flood zone through inundation mapping are beneficial for a dam owner.

Visit Activities to Increase Dam Risk Awareness and Preparedness to learn more.

Engaging with Stakeholders and the Public

Management of dam hazard risk is a shared responsiblity. In order to ensure effective management, dam owners are expected to share dam safety and dam risk information with appropriate local, tribal, and state officals so that potentially impacted communities will be empowered to effectively mitigate dam related flood risks. Stakeholder engagement and information sharing are essential tools in the dam owner “toolkit”.

There are many resources dam owners can use to shape engagement with their stakeholders and the public in dam safety conversations. Visit Engaging with Stakeholders and the Public to learn more.

Public Safety Around Dams

The nature of public interaction with dams is changing and guidance is needed to increase public safety around dams. Dam owners need to consider how the public interacts with and around their dam, and establish appropriate procedures, restrictions, and safety measures.

Visit Public Safety Around Dams to learn more.

How to Find Other Federal, Regional, State, and Local Resources

For thirty years, the National Dam Safety Progam has brought togehter the expertise and resources of the Federal and non-Federal communities to achieve dam safety hazard reduction nationally. The NDSP encourages the establishment, maintenance, and improvement of State dam safety programs, while also promoting a whole community approach to dam risk management.

Visit How to Find Other Federal, Regional, State and Local Resources to learn how to access other resources that can assist dam owners.

Operations and Maintenance

Operations and maintenance is a key component of dam ownership. In most cases, dam failure could have been prevented if the structures had been properly maintained. Maintenance is an ongoing process that not only involves such routine items as mowing the grass and clearing the trashrack and spillways, but also includes regularly inspecting the structure and properly operating its components.

Owners of dams should be aware that they are legally responsible for the operation, maintenance, and inspection of their structures. Negligence by owners in fulfilling their responsibilities can lead to the creation of extremely hazardous conditions to downstream residents and properties.

Last Updated: 
02/26/2018 - 10:00