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Congress Proposes Two Bills to Improve Dam Safety

Just two days after a dam failure in Hawaii led to the deaths of seven people, the House and Senate introduced bills on April 19, 2006 to provide more funding for dam safety programs. The House bill, the Dam Safety Act of 2006, would reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program, providing up to $12.7 million a year for four years to assist states in improving their dam safety programs. The Senate bill, the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2006, would provide up to $350 million over four years to repair and upgrade the estimated 2,600 unsafe dams in the United States.

&quotWe fully acknowledge states’ rights, but the problem is so big that it merits federal attention,&quot said Ken Smith, president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, regarding the condition of U.S. dams. &quotDams are a vital piece of the national infrastructure, and the failure of one dam can affect several states. I’m afraid more lives will be lost without help from Washington.&quot