ASDSO’s mission is to advance and improve the safety of dams by supporting the dam safety community and state dam safety programs, raising awareness of dam safety issues, facilitating cooperation, providing a forum for the exchange of information, representing dam safety interests before governments, providing outreach programs, and creating a unified community of dam safety advocates. Goal #1 of the mission is to "Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state dam safety programs."
ASDSO works with the state programs and with local stakeholders in developing state-by-state advocacy coalitions. If you would like to start advocating for strong dam safety programs in your state contact Mark Ogden, 859.333.3650.
2012 Advocacy Efforts
August 2012 - ASDSO meets with ASCE Alabama Section to discuss dam safety regulation - Tom Woosley, ASDSO Secretary and Georgia State Representative, Mark Ogden, ASDSO Project Manager, and Aaron Costello, ASCE Director of State and Local Government Relations had an opportunity in August to speak on dam safety regulation at the ASCE Alabama Section and APWA Alabama Chapter Joint Summer Conference. The presentation continued ASDSO and ASCE efforts to work toward a state dam safety program in Alabama; it focused on the need for dam safety regulation and discussed how ASDSO and ASCE can work with the Alabama ASCE and APWA groups to help establish a program. An estimated 60 to 70 conference attendees attended the one-hour presentation and many were engaged in relating issues with dams and expressing a desire to help with the effort. ASDSO and ASCE are continuing the push toward dam safety awareness and legislation in the state.
July 2012 - Virginia Governor's Task Force Again Targets Dam Safety Regulations - ASDSO works with Virginia partners to defend the current state dam safety standards. The Virginia Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review again considered reverting from the 2008 Virginia Dam Safety regulations to pre-2008 standards. ASDSO responded by sending a letter to the Task Force and also issuing a legislative alert to our Virginia members asking them to send a letter in opposition to this proposal and to attend a Task Force public meeting to be held on July 30th. Click here to see the ASDSO letter and legislative alert; also see the December 2011 item below for for a link to the Task Force recommendations and ASDSO's response at that time on this same proposal. The letter from ASDSO highlighted that the Virginia Dam Safety Program has made great strides in recent years to increase public safety, but also to reduce the regulatory burden on many dam owners without compromising public safety and that because of the recent legislative and regulatory changes, reverting to the pre-2008 regulations would actually increase the regulatory burden on many dam owners while decreasing the safety of citizens and property downstream.
Those attending the July 30th meeting reported that the Task Force elected to drop this proposal and keep the 2008 regulations. ASDSO wishes to thank our partners and all those that helped to support dam safety in Virginia.
May 2012 - ASDSO and ASCE support funding for dam safety and hazardous low-head dam removal in Iowa. ASDSO & ASCE responded to reports that the Iowa Legislature's Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal would not include funding for hazardous low-head dam removal (read the Des Moines Register article) by sending a letter to Governor Branstad, legislative leaders and budget conferees in support of the dam removal fund and the Iowa Dam Safety program
. The Low-Head Dam Public Hazard Program provides funding to local communities for the removal of low-head dams on Iowa’s rivers including dams that have no value and are in poor condition and need to be removed to protect downstream lives and property. With only 2.5 staff, the Iowa program ranks extremely low based upon the number of dams regulated per staff member. The Dam Safety and Low-Head Dam Public Hazard Programs work together in protecting Iowa’s citizens and their property. The letter urged Iowa policy makers to provide the necessary funding for these public safety programs (read a sample letter).
Update - The legislative conference committee voted to include $1 million for the Low-Head Dam Public Hazard Program and it was approved by the full Legislature, however there is concern about a line-item veto by Governor Branstad.
February 2012 - ASDSO responds to Kentucky editorial and advocates for stronger EAP regulation.
In response to a February 26 editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader (In case of dam break: No plan
), ASDSO Executive Director Lori Spragens submitted an op-ed piece
reiterating the need for EAPs on the state's high-hazard dams and noting that, according to the latest available data, only 8 of 178 high-hazard potential state-regulated dams have EAPs on file with state regulators. ASDSO also sent letters to members of the Kentucky Legislature advocating for state EAP authority. ASDSO will work with partners and stakeholders in Kentucky to advocate for stronger statutory authority.
January 2012 - ASDSO meets with Alabama ASCE Chapter to discuss dam safety regulation - ASDSO Secretary and Georgia State Representative Tom Woosley represented ASDSO at a January ASCE meeting in Birmingham, AL. The local ASCE chapter invited ASDSO to speak about dam safety and the possibility of a dam safety program in Alabama (Alabama is the only state without a state dam safety program). Mr. Woosley gave a presentation on dam safety regulation and discussed how ASDSO can possibly work with them to help establish a program. Mr. Woosley reported that the meeting went very well and in general the group of about 25 to 30 ASCE members expressed a desire for Alabama to have a dam safety program. The big obstacle in Alabama appears to be resistance in the agricultural community. ASDSO will continue to work with ASCE and other partners to bring about the support necessary to start a program.
2011 Advocacy Efforts
December 2011 - Virginia Governor's Task Force Targets Dam Safety Regulations - ASDSO is working with Virginia partners to defend the current state dam safety standards.
Governor McDonnell's Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review has included the 2008 dam safety regulations among a list of mandates for potential repeal. The mission of the task force is to review state mandates imposed on localities and to recommend temporary suspension or permanent repeal of such mandates as appropriate, and based on input from local government officials, the task force has recommended that dam safety regulation revert to pre-2008 standards. The 2008 regulations improved public safety by increasing safety standards for dam design, operation and emergency response. Reverting to the previous regulations will allow hundreds of substandard dams in Virginia, including many high hazard potential dams with the potential for loss of life if the dam fails to continue to present an unacceptable risk to the citizens of the Commonwealth. ASDSO has sent a letter to the task force urging them to reject this proposed weakening of dam safety regulations. Click here for a partial listing of the task force recommendations and the ASDSO letter.
ASDSO will continue to work with partners such as ASCE and the Virginia ACEC to educate the task force and Virginia policy-makers on the importance of dam safety standards.
May 31, 2011 - Texas Dam Safety Legislation - ASDSO works with Texas partners to limit attempts to weaken dam safety regulations in the state. In April 2011, ASDSO learned of an amendment to a bill that would eliminate over 94% of dams under state regulatory jurisdiction by exempting dams with less than 1000 acre-feet of storage. The amendment was approved by the Texas House of Representatives on April 19th as part of a reauthorization bill for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Through the efforts of ASDSO, our members and many partners, the amendment was not included in the Senate reauthorization companion bill and was greatly changed in the conference committee report for the two bills. The final bill, adopted by the Legislature, includes an exemption for significant and low hazard dams storing less than a maximum of 500 acre-feet in counties with population less than 215,000, excluding dams within municipal corporate limits. Read alerts/letters...
April 7, 2011 - Virginia Dam Safety Legislation - ASDSO works with Virginia partners to defeat an amendment to the the budget bill that would have exempted up to 97% of dams under state regulatory jurisdiction. This action ended a series of efforts by ASDSO on legislation concerning dam safety in Virginia during the 2011 legislative session. You can see the summary and read more about the legislative alerts and letters at the following link. Read summary, alerts/letters...
Links to individual state dam safety laws and regulations can be found on the "Dam Safety in the States" page.