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Maloney’s Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act Passes House as Part of Water Resources Investment Bill

Dec 8, 2016
Press Release
Creates Grant Program for Local Communities to Fix Dams

Washington – Following a year of intense flooding throughout the country, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney announced the passage of his Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act as part of the Water Infrastructure Investment for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The bill will establish a federal investment program to allow states and local governments to seek funding for the rehabilitation of high-hazard publicly-owned dams. The federal government will invest $445 million over ten years, providing 65% of funding, while state and local jurisdictions will provide 35% of matching funds.

“I am happy we passed another bill to invest in dam safety to protect my neighbors and local businesses, while creating good-paying jobs and stimulating our local economies. Nearly 100 dams in the Hudson Valley are considered high-hazard, and that’s pretty scary for families and businesses throughout our area,” said Rep. Maloney, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “My bill will finally do something to help fix them.”

Rep. Maloney’s Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act was introduced in 2015, and would provide grant assistance to states to allow them to make critical safety upgrades and rehabilitate dams that fail to meet minimum safety standards. This program would only focus investments on the most critical publicly-owned dams across the country, with 2/3 of funds going to states with the highest number of high hazard dams. Last year, following the collapse of 14 dams in South Carolina, Maloney and representatives from the Association of Dam Safety Officials and the American Society of Civil Engineers pressed the House of Representatives to pass this critical legislation.  

Rep. Maloney also passed his Dam Safety Act of 2013 as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. This bill renewed the federal commitment to addressing the growing safety concerns caused by our nation’s aging dam infrastructure by reauthorizing the National Dam Safety Program (NDSP). The program provides grants to states to improve their dam safety programs through inspection, training, technical assistance, and research. Multiple states have used the grant funds to develop Graphic Information Systems (GIS) to identify the locations of their dams and map the areas below the dams that would flood in the event of a failure, which is useful in developing evacuation planning. States like New York rely on the National Dam Safety Program to support their own dam safety programs.

New York State has the 8th most high hazard dams in the country totaling 403, with nearly 100 of those dams in the Hudson Valley. The average age of America’s over 84,000 dams is 52 years old, but in New York State, the average age is 69 years old.  At the time that many of these dams were constructed they were low-hazard dams, which were protecting relatively undeveloped areas. Since that time, America’s population has grown and many of these areas have become increasingly developed.  America’s dams continue to age and the number of high-hazard dams, where the loss of life is probable in the event of dam failure, is increasing.