Late last week, Senators Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced S. 2835, a bill that, if enacted, would provide funding assistance to rehabilitate, repair, or remove nonfederal high hazard deficient dams. This is a promising step in the effort to improve the nation’s aging dams, which received a “D” grade in the 2013 Report Card.
Dams are a vital part of the nation’s aging infrastructure, providing enormous benefits to the majority of Americans including drinking water, flood protection, renewable hydroelectric power, navigation, irrigation and recreation. Yet there are more than 4,000 dams that are determined to be unsafe or deficient.
Through a grant program, the bipartisan bill proposes $600 million over 10 years to go toward dam rehab. It will help local communities that lack funding to rehabilitate, repair, or remove a high hazard dam before it breaches. As Sen. Reed said in a press release issued by ASCE “By assisting in the repair or removal of high hazard dams before they fail, the bill makes an investment in future cost savings, not to mention lives and property saved.”
This bill would allow communities to make the preemptive investment into aging infrastructure, and in the process make the communities below a dam safer. The legislation was referred to the Senate’s Environment & Public Works Committee.
Since the bill’s introduction, the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act 0f 2016 section by section summary was released. The bill includes a very similar program, named in Section 3004 as the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams.
Send a letter to your Senators asking them to support S. 2835, which will address aging dams that protect our communities and provide benefits to our economy.