ASDSO and FEMA National Dam Safety Program Collaborate on Newly Released Model State Dam Safety Program


Following a three-year collaborative effort between ASDSO and FEMA's National Dam Safety Program, a 2022 version of the Model State Dam Safety Program Manual has been released.

The 'Model Program' is a guide to the actions state dam safety programs should take to determine if dams are safe and the types of actions that may be needed if they are not. The manual encourages progressive safety standards and procedures that state agencies use to regulate dam site investigation, design, construction, operation and maintenance, risk and hazard determinations, need for rehabilitation or removal, and emergency planning and preparedness. The Model Program outlines the key components of an effective state dam safety program. It does not mirror any state program, nor does it replace any state's existing laws or regulations. It is intended to guide the development of more effective and sustainable state programs that will mitigate major risks facing dams across the nation.

Significant changes to the Model Program from the previous version (2007) include a revised chapter organization and an increased emphasis on existing dams. The Model Program contains six chapters, each informing readers about how to best care for dams before, during, and after an emergency. The chapters are:

  1.  Authorities
  2. Communication, Coordination, and Outreach
  3. Existing Dams 
    • Introduction
    • Dam Information
    • Dam Inspections
    • Risk Evaluation and Management
    • Public Safety and Security
    • Compliance and Enforcement
  4. Dam Construction, Modification, and Removal
  5. Emergency Planning and Incident Response
  6. Program Administration and Management

Some elements of this model provide several options for states to achieve model objectives. However, some areas need the use of consistent terminologies or processes across state dam safety programs, including:

  • Hazard potential classifications, especially the terms "high" and "significant"
  • Consistent evaluation of potential loss of life and/or damage to property, infrastructure, or the environment for those hazard potential classifications
  • Two different levels of periodic inspections: routine and comprehensive review inspections
  • Use of both deterministic and risk-informed analyses

The ASDSO Model State Dam Safety Program Update Task Force developed the report. We want to thank the following task force members for their significant contributions:

  • Keith Mills, Oregon (partly retired) (Task Force Chair)
  • James Demby, National Dam Safety Program, Federal Emergency Management Agency (former)
  • Tony Fernandes, Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc. (retired)
  • Ben Green, Vermont
  • Doug Johnson, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Dusty Myers, Eagle Creek Renewable Energy
  • Mark Ogden, ASDSO
  • Ken Smith, Indiana
  • Hal Van Aller, Maryland (retired), Board Liaison
  • Bill McCormick, Colorado (retired), Board Liaison

We also want to thank the ASDSO members whose dues supported the creation of the model and other vital projects that advance national dam safety practices. ASDSO fully funded the report in addition to a generous monetary donation from the Fernandes Family Charitable Trust, a Donor Advised Fund of the U.S. Charitable Gift Trust. 

View and Download the 2022 Model State Dam Safety Program Manual


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