Virginia dam owners urged to prioritize safety
RICHMOND — Hurricane season is ongoing — and with fall rains and winter storms just around the corner, Virginia’s dam safety officials are reminding dam owners of their responsibilities. Dam failures can result in catastrophic flooding, putting people and property at risk.
Virginia has more than 3,000 dams. In fact, all but two lakes in the commonwealth have dams. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that oversees the state dam safety program, currently regulates more than 2,600 of those dams.
Most dams in Virginia are privately owned. Dam owners may be liable for damages to other people’s property, injuries or deaths resulting from the failure or malfunction of their dam.
DCR advises dam owners that they must do the following to be in compliance with the Virginia Dam Safety Act:
- Register their dam with a Certificate of Operation and Maintenance through DCR.
- Determine the dam’s hazard classification.
- Have periodic inspections and perform routine maintenance and repairs.
- File an Emergency Action Plan or Emergency Preparedness Plan with DCR and local authorities.
“Owners of state-regulated dams need to be aware of their responsibilities under the Virginia Dam Safety Act,” said Wendy Howard-Cooper, DCR director of dam safety and floodplain management. “We are committed to working with dam owners across the commonwealth to ensure that these structures are constructed, operated and maintained safely. We are also here for the general public, who may have questions or concerns about a dam in their community.”
Dam owners or residents with questions or concerns about dam safety compliance may contact DCR at www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-outreach.
More information on DCR’s dam safety program is available at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/dam-safety-index