Dam Safety Act Applauded by Civil Engineers

Senators Akaka, Boozman, Whitehouse and Crapo lead reauthorization 

Washington, D.C. — The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) today applauded the introduction of the Dam Safety Act of 2012 (S. 3362), by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), John Boozman (R-AR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). If enacted, this critical legislation would reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program, an important national program, administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that seeks to improve the safety and security of the nation’s dams.

Through the program, FEMA will continue to lead national efforts including research, technology transfer, communication between state and federal agencies, and much needed training for state dam safety engineers. The grant assistance component of the act provides vital support for the improvement of state dam safety programs, which regulate 95 percent of the more than 84,000 dams in the United States.

“Dams provide tremendous benefits to society but they also represent a public safety issue. A dam failure can result in severe loss of life, economic disaster and extensive environmental damage,” said ASCE President Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E. “I commend Senators Akaka, Boozman, Crapo and Whitehouse for their leadership on reauthorizing this important legislation.”

In 2009, ASCE published the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure giving the condition of our nation’s dams a grade of D, equal to the overall infrastructure grade. State dam safety programs have identified more than 4,095 unsafe or deficient dams, many being susceptible to large flood events or earthquakes.

Dams provide many benefits including flood protection, drinking water, hydroelectric power, irrigation and recreation. However, without proper maintenance, dams can be hazardous structures. Their failure or improper operation can result in loss of human life, economic loss, lifeline disruption and environmental damage. In order to provide safe continuing service, dams require ongoing maintenance, monitoring, frequent safety inspections, and rehabilitation.

Reauthorization of this program will provide federal leadership and assistance to the state-level programs that shoulder the enormous burden of assuring the safety of our nation’s dams.

About ASCE
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE continues to work closely with the Association of State Dam Safety Officials to monitor the conditions of the nation’s dams.