Updates of Key Federal Legislation and Bills and ASDSO's Actions
What can you do: Contact your Congressman or Senator if they serve on key committees. The messages are simple:
- Recommend their sponsorship of a bill to create a National Dam Rehabilitation Program.
- Recommend their support for reauthorization and funding for the National Dam Safety Program.
- Talk about how dam rehabilitation projects help local jobs, the economic benefits, big natural resource benefits, etc. A brief account of local dams in need of rehabilitation is always a good addition. We would strongly suggest you Fax or email your letters.
National Dam Safety Act
View the text of the National Dam Safety Act - (P.L. 109-460) (2006 version as it is viewed in context with the 1996 and 2002 language). This act is currently expired.
Download Issue Brief
The National Dam Safety Program Act of 2006 (NDSPA), was reauthorized on December 8, 2006 and signed into law by the President on December 22, 2006. It is Public Law 109-460. This modest yet vital program (app. $11 million in FY11) enables the states to improve their dam safety programs, which translates into reduced risks to life and property.
The NDSPA provides training; technical assistance; research funding; and support to states through incentive grant awards that encourage states to improve their programs. No funds under this act may be used to repair any dams. The funds are targeted to support states and to advance the national effort to improve dam safety.
P.L. 109-460 reauthorized the National Dam Safety Program for five years at the following funding levels:
- Continuing education for state dam safety staff (total $3,250,000 over 5 years authorized level).
- State Assistance Grants which provide funding directly to state dam safety programs to help meet state-specific dam safety goals (total $38,700,000 over 5 years authorized level; funding formula based on the number of dams in each state ).
- Research to identify improved methods for inspection and evaluation of the safety of dams, improved methods of rehabilitating unsafe dams and performing vulnerability assessments to assure security at critical infrastructure dams (total $9,000,000 over 5 years authorized level).
- Support for the National Inventory of Dams data collection, archiving and reporting system administered by the Corps of Engineers ($3,750,000 over 5 years authorized level).
- Salaries and expenses to administer the program at FEMA (under the Mitigation Directorate. (total $4,500,000 over 5 years authorized level)
October 23, 2013
HR 3080 passed by the House of Representatives.
September 11, 2013
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) with much fanfare Wednesday, September 11. As the title proves, the bill is one of the most policy and reform focused Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA) to be introduced in the past few decades. Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) joined the Water Resources Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) to unveil the legislation and supplemental materials, which they hope will help sell the message for water resources investment to the public.
The legislation includes reauthorization of the National Dam Safety program. The legislation does not create an independent National Levee Safety program, but instead would allow the Army Corps to assist states in creating their own programs.
May 15, 2013
The Senate passes the Water Resources Development Act, which includes reauthorization of the National Dam Safety Act.
April 11, 2013
Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and Chris Gibson (R-NY) introduced the Dam Safety Act of 2013 as a stand-alone bill on April 11. The bill, H.R. 1489, would reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program through 2016 at $10.53 million annually and is the same language that passed the House with bipartisan support last Congress.
The reauthorization is still included in WRDA in the Senate. Senator Charles Schumer, also of New York, has been promoting the reauthorization and passage of WRDA.
January 1, 2013
The 2012 legislation to reauthorize the program did not pass. The 112th Congress ended.
November 15, 2012
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is considering a Water Resources Development Act bill that includes the National Dam Safety Program reauthorization. ASDSO submitted testimony advocating for passage.
September 20, 2012
The House passed HR 2903 - the FEMA REauthorization Act of 2012 - and referred it to the Senate. The National Dam Safety Program (same as HR 4090) was included as part of this bill.
March 8, 2012
Rep. Carnahan (D-MO) introduced the reauthorization of the National Dam SAfety Act for consideration by the House. The bill number is HR 4090.
June 28, 2012
Senators Akaka (D-HI) and Boozeman (R-AR) introduced the reauthorization of the National Dam Safety Act for consideration by the Senate. The bill number is S 3362.
The five-year authorization expired in September 2011. On February 27, Rep. Carnahan (R-MO) introduced HR 4090. Concurrently, Rep. Denham (CA) offered an amendment to the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2012 (HR 2903) adding the reauthorization of the National Dam Safety Act. ASDSO and ASCE Government Relations are working with both Congressmen's offices to come to an agreement on which bill will move forward. There has been no action in the Senate.
The National Dam Rehabilitation Program
ASDSO endorses the creation of a national grant program to fund dam rehabilitation. This small program would only focus grant dollars on the most critical publicly-owned dams across the country. This would be a matching program (matched with state or local funds) and would provide $200 million over five years and divided among the states.
Download Issue Brief
January 1, 2013
The legislation did not pass in 2012. The 112th Congress ended.
August 1, 2012
Reps Carnahan (D-MO) and LaTourrette (R-OH) introduced the Dam Rehabilitation & Repair Act of 2012 in the House. The bill number is HR 6254.
In 2007-08, a similar bill passed the House of Representatives and was voted out of committee on the Senate side. It was last introduced in 2009 as H.R. 1770 in the House and as S. 732 in the Senate. Both bills failed to pass prior to the end of the that Congress.
(Click here to download the information flyer.)
Levee Safety Legislation
ASDSO submitted testimony for the November 17, 2010 hearing on the Water Resources Development Act--Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Read testimony.
ASDSO submited testimony for the May 19, 2009 hearing by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Read Testimony.
ASDSO representatives sit on the National Committee on Levee Safety assisting the Corps of Engineers in creating the National Levee Safety Program plan. The draft plan is available for viewing at http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/ncls/.
The National Levee Safety Program is promulgated within the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which was signed into law in November 2007.
The Senate passes the Water Resources Development Act, which includes language to set up a National Levee Safety Program.
Draft legislation is included in the Water Resources Development bill (WRDA) in the 113th Congress to create a national levee safety program. WRDA was voted out of committee on the Senate side in March.
November 15, 2012
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is considered a bill to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act. The bill includes language to create a national levee safety program. ASDSO submitted testimony advocating for passage.
The Small Watershed Dam Rehabilitation Program
For more information about this program go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WSRehab/.
The National Watershed Coalition (of which ASDSO is a member) and ASDSO advocate for full funding for the Small Watershed Programs.
Contact Dan Sebert at NWC for more information:
Dan A. Sebert, Ph.D., CEO-Executive Director, National Watershed Coalition, 1023 Manvel, Suite D, P.O. Box 556, Chandler, OK 74834, 405.627.0670, email@example.com; www.watershedcoalition.org
The President' FY13 proposed budget zeros out funding for the Small Watershed Program.
In late 2011, ASDSO submitted a letter to Senator Reid and McConnell explaining why this program is important and why it should receive adequate funding. ASDSO also submitted testimony to the March 8, 2011 hearing on Natural Resources Conservation Service funding advocating for appropriations for the Small Watershed Program.
The National Inventory of Dams
The US Army Corps of Engineers administers the National Inventory of Dams (NID), a database of general information on US regulated dams. The Corps' authorized funding level for this program is $500,000 a year. Current administration funding levels are considerably lower than this.
Currently: ASDSO supports full funding for this program.
Flood Insurance Program Mapping
ASDSO continues to work with the National Flood Mapping Coalition to update and upgrade flood insurance maps. ASDSO supports the updates of overlays to show dam breach inundation areas on all FIRMs. ASDSO does not support mandatory flood insurance for residents living in dam breach flood areas.
USGS Streamgage Program
ASDSO supports the continuation and adequate funding to maintain U.S. streamgages. This program is administered by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Read more at:
Through its partnering relationship with the Interstate Council on Water Policy, ASDSO is supporting investment in water resources data collection. ASDSO executive director, Lori Spragens, recently signed onto a letter to Congress asking them to support funding for the US Geological Survey's National Streamflow Information Program and Cooperative Water Program. To quote the letter, "America's need for streamflow, groundwater, tidal surge, precipitation and water quality data increase every year in relation to the land use and economic development needs in our states, and our infrastructure planning and ecological commitments magnify those needs. Unfortunately, the NSIP and CWP budgets have not kept up with [needs]. The NSIP and CWP are proven sources of reliable scientific information that we need on a regular basis to support good decisionmaking for both the public and private sectors in a wide variety of analytical, planning design and management functions."
Letters went to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies with a similar letter going to the Department of Interior secretary.
Read letter (House)...
Read letter (Senate)...
Other Current Issues
ASDSO Submits Recommendations to MSHA. Recommends stronger standards for metal/non-metal dams.
ASDSO Urges Labor Department to Upgrade Design Standards for Mine Dams
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) should adopt stronger engineering safety standards for the construction and operation of impoundment dams at metal and non-metal mines, ASDSO told MSHA this month in a written response to the Federal Register request for input.
According to MSHA, dam failures at metal and nonmetal mines have exposed miners to life-threatening hazards. MSHA started an effort this year to review its existing metal and nonmetal standards for dams. The Agency is concerned that some dams pose hazards because they are not designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to accepted dam safety practices. MSHA is considering approaches to better protect miners from the hazards of dam failures and recently closed the period for solicitation of information to help determine how best to proceed.
MSHA is a division within the Labor Department responsible for the regulation of mine safety to protect mine workers from accidents, including the failure of impoundment dams. Mine dams are typically earthen structures around reservoirs or retention ponds that contain mining wastes or "tailings," the material generated in the removal of minerals from the ground. Impoundment dams at mines are not static; they increase in size as the mine produces more tailings and the waste volume in the reservoirs increases.
Among ASDSO's recommendations was an emphasis on bringing these metal/non-metal dams up to national design standards and stronger working relationships with state dam safety regulators.
Read the text of the ASDSO comments.
MSHA withdraws proposed regulation change. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2010/08/13/2010-19960/metal-and-nonmetal-dams