Legislative Advocacy

Legislative Advocacy

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Priority Legislative Issues and Goals

ASDSO's Priority Legislative Issues

  • Increased appropriations for the National Dam Safety Program.
  • Program revisions and full appropriations for the National High-Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Act.
  • Increased appropriations to continue the success of the USDA Small Watershed Dam Rehabilitation Program.
  • Support and appropriations for the National Levee Safety Program.
  • Support for State Dam Safety Programs including strong statutes, funding and staffing.

Federal Legislative Goals

  • Push for full funding of all federal laws that improve dam safety.
  • Coordinate an education and advocacy effort for all federal legislative initiatives including encouraging grass-roots lobbying.
  • Encourage alternative sources of funding for dam rehabilitation and repairs through federal/state partnerships or public/private partnerships.
  • Increase general dam safety awareness in Washington, D.C. to keep at the forefront the need for funding of the National Dam Safety Program and other federal dam safety programs.

State Legislative Goals

  • Increase network of support for states when dam safety programs are threatened.
  • Track all legislative changes and publish summaries. Provide benchmark data to states on dam safety policies.
  • Assist state dam safety agencies with legislative awareness to give them the tools/information needed when programs are threatened.
  • Encourage policies and provide tools at the state level to increase dam safety awareness.
  • Explore funding mechanisms for state dam safety programs and assist states in maintaining and increasing their budgets.

How Can You Participate in ASDSO's Advocacy Efforts

Find Your Legislator's Contact Info:

Senate Contacts
House of Representatives Contacts

Federal Advocacy

You can help support strong dam safety programs at the federal level by educating your Senators and Congressmen about the need for policies and resources that improve dam safety and, therefore, reduce the risks associated with dam failure.  ASDSO works with Congress, with key administrative staff and with other non-governmental organizations to improve legislation and regulations and to ensure that funding is appropriated for these programs. It is important that you stay informed and build our advocacy efforts. From time to time, we ask our members to contact your Congressional delegation to educate them about the need for strong dam safety programs at the federal level and to support specific legislation that will improve dam safety nationwide.

Watch this page for alerts and issue briefs or contact Lori Spragens at ASDSO to become a part of the Federal Legislative Advocacy Interest Group. [email protected].

Federal Priority Issues:

Reauthorize the National Dam Safety Act (current version expires in 2023). Increase annual appropriations for the National Dam Safety Program. Administered by DHS, FEMA. Authorized currently at $13.9 million a year. 

Increase annual appropriations for the National Levee Safety Program. Administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers and DHS, FEMA. Authorized currently at $54 million a year.

Refine the elements of and increase annual appropriations for the National High-Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program. Administered by FEMA through the National Dam Safety Program. The 2016 law authorizes the program at $40 million for FY20 and $60 million for each year thereafter thru 2026.

State-Specific Advocacy

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, 859-228-9732 x 107 or [email protected].

Partners Increase Support for Dam Safety

Partnering with other organizations allows for a stronger voice in Washington and in State Capitals. ASDSO current partnerships include:

Read More About Legislation & Policy

Funding for Dam Safety, Removal and Retrofit in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Over $2 Billion was included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for dams and injected millions of dollars into the National Dam Safety Program as well as other federal programs. ASDSO - IIJA Summary for Dams.pdf

The National Dam Safety Act

The National Dam Safety Program Act was reauthorized in 2018 thru the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, thru 2023. The High-Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program was added in 2016.

Read the text of the National Dam Safety Act - (2018 version as it is viewed in context with the 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2014 language).

This modest yet vital program (app. $13 million total) 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; public awareness; 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.

The NDSA will expire in 2023 and will need to be reauthorized.

The National Dam Rehabilitation Program

The National Dam Rehabilitation Act was signed into law in late 2016 as Section 3004 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements to the Nation Act (WIIN 2016). Amendments were passed in 2020 to refine the program. The program is currently authorized at $60 million a year thru 2026.

Read the text of the National Dam Rehabilitation Act

Levee Safety Legislation

Status - 2018: The National Levee Safety Initiative was reauthorized in 2018 thru the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, thru 2023.

2014 - The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) 2014 included language to start a "levee safety initiative."  

2007 - The National Levee Safety Program is promulgated within the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which was signed into law in November 2007.

The Watershed Dam Rehabilitation Program

Funding provides matching grants to watershed districts to rehabilitate their dams. 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 protected]; www.watershedcoalition.org

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.

USGS Streamgage Program

This program is underfunded routinely within the Department of Interior, US Geological Survey's budget. ASDSO supports the continuation and adequate funding to maintain U.S. streamgages. 

Read more at:
USGS National Streamflow Information Program
Interstate Council on Water Policy

ASDSO Testimony

Selected testimony and letters submitted to the Administration, to Congress or to State Legislatures

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation Recommendation 2021 - Letter to the FEMA Administrator

Letter to members of the Georgia Senate opposing SB 440- a bill which would reduce the safety of the public relating to dam regulation in the state. Read Example Letter 2022 

Testimony before the Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Senate, March 1, 2017

Letter to the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee regarding a Hearing entitled “Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government.”

Statement on The Water Resources Development Act, United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, November 15, 2012

Statement on The Water Resources Development Act, United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, September 20, 2012

Statement before the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on The FY 2012 Budgets and Priorities of the Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service: Finding Ways To Do More with Less, March 8, 2011

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the Water Resources Development Act of 2010: Legislative and Policy Proposals to Benefit the Economy, Create Jobs, Protect Public Safety and Maintain America’s Water Resources Infrastructure, November 17, 2010

Testimony on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 before the United States Department of Agriculture before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, March 19, 2010.

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