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AP analysis finds growing number of poor, high-hazard dams

Infrastructure Neglected Dams
Posted at 2:38 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 17:41:03-04

(AP) — An Associated Press analysis has found a growing number of hazardous dams in poor condition across the U.S.

The AP tallied more than 2,200 dams in poor or unsatisfactory condition that are rated as high hazard, meaning their failure likely would kill someone.

That figure is up substantially from a similar AP review three years ago.

Experts say the increase is a result partly of deferred maintenance and new development downstream from old dams that weren't necessarily designed to today's standards.

The federal government's National Inventory of Dams has been updated to make the conditions of many dams public, but some agencies still withhold that information.

Condition of some US dams kept secret in national database

The condition ratings of thousands of dams across the U.S. remain a secret despite changes to improve the transparency of a national database.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used to withhold condition assessments from its National Inventory of Dams because of security concerns stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Under a recent policy change, condition assessments and hazard ratings are available for more than one-quarter of the 92,000 dams in the inventory.

But the Corps still allows federal agencies and states to keep some information confidential.

That means conditions still aren't being made public for some of the nation's biggest dams.