The Bureau of Reclamation announced laconically Sept. 12 that it had stepped up security at Hoover, Glen Canyon, and Grand Coulee dams. Historically, catastrophic dam failures have been responsible for some very large death tolls. Dam failure caused the Johnstown (PA) flood of 1889, which killed 2,200. Dams also play a key role in reducing flood fatalities. Today in the United States, there are many dams in unsafe structural condition, and many of those are upstream of vulnerable populated areas. There is a U.S. dam safety program, but critics think it needs strengthening. The National Dam Safety Program Act expires in Sept. 2002.
What dams are near you? Are they upstream of populated areas? Have they been inspected and rated recently? Which are the high-hazard dams in your state? Do they have emergency action plans? How does your state measure up to the Model State Dam Safety Program? See FEMA Report.
- COE National Inventory of Dams: Bob Bank (Program Manager), 202-761-4243. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains information on approximately 76,000 U.S. dams in downloadable database and GIS form.
- Bureau of Reclamation Dam Safety Office: Bruce Muller. Sept. 12, 2001, Burec release: Diana Cross, 208-378-5020.
- Association of State Dam Safety Officials: Lori Spragens, 606-257-5170; Robert H. Dalton (President), 217- 782-3863. States regulate about 95% of U.S. dams.
- On Sept. 25-27, ASDSO (with FERC) was scheduled to hold an International Workshop for Emergency Preparedness at Dams in Niagara Falls, NY. Contact: Natalie Leech or Frank Calcagno, 202-219-2741.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- National Performance of Dams Program (Stanford Univ. Civil Eng. Dept.): Martin W. McCann Jr., 650-723-9323.
- United States Society on Dams (formerly U.S. Committee on Large Dams): Larry D. Stephens, 303-628-5430.