Investment is needed to rehabilitate deficient dams and to improve the efficacy of policies and regulatory programs that oversee dam safety programs. Upgrade or rehabilitation is necessary due to deterioration, changing technical standards, and improved techniques, as well as better understanding of the area’s precipitation conditions, increases in downstream populations, and changing land use. When a dam’s hazard classification is changed to reflect an increased hazard potential, the dam may need to be upgraded to meet an increased need for safety. Many dam owners, especially private dam owners, find it difficult to finance rehabilitation projects.
The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that the combined total cost to rehabilitate the nation’s non-federal and federal dams exceeds $64 billion. To rehabilitate just those dams categorized as most critical, or high-hazard, would cost the nation nearly $22 billion, a cost that continues to rise as maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation are delayed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that more than $25 billion will be required to address dam deficiencies for Corps-owned dams. At current investment rates, these repairs would take over 50 years to complete. The Bureau of Reclamation has identified approximately 20 of its high- and significant-hazard potential dams as in need of repair or upgrade. The cost of those actions is estimated at $2 billion over the next 15 years.