Representatives Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) introduced H.R. 6254, the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2012, before Congress left for the August work period. The legislation would establish a program within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund dam rehabilitation and repairs and would award grants for assistance to publicly-owned deficient dams. The program would be a part of the National Dam Safety Program.
To address dam deficiencies, the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act would provide $200 million over five years for the repair, rehabilitation, and removal of publicly owned dams. The proposed legislation would distribute funds to state dam safety agencies based on the number of high-hazard, publicly-owned non-federal dams in the state, with the federal government’s share of any grant not exceeding 65 percent of the total cost of repairs.
In the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure the nation’s 85,000 dams received a grade of “D” and they averaged over 51 years old. ASCE has been working for several Congress’ to see the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act enacted. Congress should address the estimated $12 billion in needed repairs for the nation’s most critical high-hazard dams. As development downstream from dams continues, more and more dams that were originally built to low or significant hazard levels are now suddenly classified as high hazard. Our nation needs to be making these critical investments into both our federal dam safety program and on a state, and local level, in order to guarantee public safety below dams.