Dam Owner Responsibilities
What the North Carolina Dam Safety Program Does
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Land Resources includes the Dam Safety Program within the Land Quality Section. The Dam Safety Program was created to implement the LQS mission to prevent property damage, personal injury and loss of life from the failure of dams.
The engineers of the Dam Safety Program conduct routine dam inspections according to the legislative mandates within North Carolina statutes and administrative code. High-Hazard Potential (HHP) dams are inspected every two years. Intermediate-Hazard and Low-Hazard Potential dams are inspected once every five years. Inspectors examine the hazard status of dams with each inspection to determine whether the classification should be changed.
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Special inspections may be required when there are situations such as extreme weather, seismic events, or citizen complaints. Dam owners may request a special inspection. Inspections also are made in follow-up to problems that have been identified at a dam, and during and after construction, repair, modification, or breaching. If there is a problem with a dam and the owner does not remediate it, the Dam Safety Program enforcement options include administrative orders, judicial injunctions, and civil penalties.
If a dam appears to be failing, Dam Safety Program engineers advise local Emergency Management Directors of the degree of danger. The dam owner will be advised of actions that may be taken to prevent failure or lessen the impact of failure, and will determine when failure is starting, as well as when the danger has passed.
A typical year
In 2006, the Dam Safety Program staff made a major revision of its Dam Operation, Maintenance and Inspection Manual. The manual contains vital information in layman’s terms on the requirements to permit a dam, dam maintenance and operation and emergency actions. The manual is available on the Division’s website.
The Dam Safety Program staff served on the emergency operations team during the periods of heavy rainfall from tropical storms in 2006. The Program approved 163 permits to construct, modify, repair or breach a dam and made 1,556 inspections of dams. The program continued to help dam owners prepare EAPs for HHP dams. The Program also compiles and maintains a database of all dams in the state and provides this information to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the National Inventory of Dams.