WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) applauded the introduction of the Dam Safety Act of 2012 (S. 3362) by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), John Boozman (R-AR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). If enacted, the legislation would reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program, an important national program, administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that seeks to improve the safety and security of the nation’s dams.

Through the program, FEMA will continue to lead national efforts including research, technology transfer, communication between state and federal agencies, and much needed training for state dam safety engineers. The grant assistance component of the act provides vital support for the improvement of state dam safety programs, which regulate 95 percent of the more than 84,000 dams in the United States.

“Dams provide tremendous benefits to society but they also represent a public safety issue. A dam failure can result in severe loss of life, economic disaster and extensive environmental damage,” said ASCE President Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E. “I commend Senators Akaka, Boozman, Crapo, and Whitehouse for their leadership on reauthorizing this important legislation.”

In 2009, ASCE published the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure giving the condition of our nation’s dams a grade of D, equal to the overall infrastructure grade. State dam safety programs have identified more than 4,095 unsafe or deficient dams, many being susceptible to large flood events or earthquakes.