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Dam Rehab and Repair Act Introduced

October 08, 2004

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the
Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), members of the Dam Safety Coalition, today backed the introduction of the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2004 (HR 5190), a bill that will create a federal funding program to repair the nation’s unsafe public dams. Congresswoman Sue Kelly (19th District NY) introduced this important legislation to address the critical issue
of deteriorating dam structures that pose a severe threat to many
communities throughout the country.

“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 Pat Galloway, P.E., F.ASCE, PMP. “I commend Representative Kelly for working with the coalition to craft this crucial legislation.”

“Dam failures are largely preventable disasters. This bill would protect the crucial services that dams provide as well as the property of those communities they serve,” said Kelly.

“The Association of State Dam Safety Officials applauds Congresswoman Kelly for her leadership in introducing this necessary legislation that invests in our nation’s critical infrastructure and will undoubtedly help prevent tragic dam
failures. ASDSO calls upon the other members of Congress and the Governors to recognize the growing number of unsafe dams and to support this bill,” said ASDSO President Steve Verigin.

Dams are a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure – providing drinking water, flood protection, renewable hydroelectric power, navigation, irrigation and recreation. These critical daily benefits are also inextricably linked to the potential harmful consequences of a dam failure.

In 2001 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. In ASCE’s 2003 Progress Report, dams received a downward trend mark due to the dramatic increase of unsafe dams since 2001. State dam safety programs have identified more than 3,000 unsafe or deficient dams, many being susceptible to large flood events or earthquakes. The number of unsafe dams will continue to increase until a funding source is created to repair them.

The ASDSO, in its October 2003 report entitled “The Cost of Rehabilitating Our Nation’s Dams,” estimated that $10 billion would be needed to repair the most critical dams over the next 12 years. The Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2004 is a legislative step to help address this need. If enacted, the legislation would mandate:

Recently Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell and Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm called upon the Bush Administration to support the legislation to provide federal assistance in strengthening the state dam safety programs. With the aging of the nation’s dams, many that do not meet current safety standards, and the dramatic increase in downstream
development, this program would improve the safety of our nation’s critical dams and ensure the continuing benefits that dams provide on a daily basis.

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