Fact or Fiction?

Common Beliefs about Dams



“The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for most of the dams in the U.S.”

State dam safety programs have oversight of most dams in the U.S.

State agencies regulate more than 80% of the nation’s dams.


“Dams are like roads. The government takes care of them.”

Private dam owners are responsible for more than 65% of the nation’s dams, including maintenance and upgrades.

Many lack the financial resources necessary for adequate dam maintenance.


"There are only a few dams in my state."

There are more than 85,000 dams in the U.S. Most states are home to hundreds – or thousands – of dams of regulatory criteria.
•Texas has the most dams – more than 7,000 – followed by Kansas (6,087), Missouri (5,099), Oklahoma (4,755), and Georgia (4,606).
•Mississippi, North Carolina, and Iowa each have more than 3,000 dams.
•Five states – Alabama, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and South Dakota – each have more than 2,000 dams.
•More than 1,000 dams are in each of 15 additional states.
•Of all states, Delaware has the fewest number of dams, with 86.



“That dam has been here for years – it’s not going anywhere.”


Advancing age makes dams more susceptible to failure.
•The average age of dams in the U.S. is more than 51 years old. As dams age, deterioration increases and construction costs rise. Some common problems of older dams are:
•Deteriorating metal pipes and structural components—after 50 years, metal rusts and fails.
•Sediment-filled reservoirs—sediment displaces storage of floodwaters. Some sediment may have contaminants from chemicals in runoff from upstream areas.
•Subdivisions and businesses built upstream—roofs and concrete streets and sidewalks increase the volume of runoff to the dam.


Whether you realize it or not, the odds are that you live or work near a dam.

Living With Dams: Know Your Risks is a booklet and new website designed to help answer questions about dams: what purposes they serve, associated risks, guidance for those living near dams, and where to find further information.

The booklet provides a general overview of dams and dam safety, and answers the following questions:
1.Why should I care about dams?
2.What are the risks associated with dams?
3.Could I be affected by a dam? What is the dam failure flood inundation area?
4.Once I determine that my property is in a dambreak inundation area, what's next?

Hardcopy booklets are available from ASDSO. For more information, visit livingneardams.org.

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