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The Texas Association of Counties, an important stakeholder in dam safety and Emergency Action Planning, has posted a summary of a Texas House of Representatives hearing on the impact of exemptions to dam safety inspections and EAPs contained in revisions to the Texas dam safety laws.

Dam Safety Rule Changes May be Short Lived
10-13 | By Bruce Barr, CFM, TAC County G.I.S. Analyst

On Sept. 26, the House Committee on Environmental Regulation, chaired by Representative Wayne Smith, heard testimony regarding the implementation of dam safety rule changes passed during the last legislative session. The interim charge states that the committee shall:  "Examine the impact on dam safety of provisions passed in HB 2694 (82R) and develop recommendations, if any, regarding risk to downstream property and life. read more

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In October 2013, National Public Radio's StateImpact Texas team produced a four-part series about hazardous dams in Texas, the 2013 changes to exempt some dams from inspections and EAPs, and secrecy regarding who owns dams and their hazard classification.

1. Why So Many Dams In Texas Are in Bad Condition
10-14-13 | NPR | By Mose Bruchele

Of the 1,880 dams inspected by the TCEQ since 2008, 245 were found to be in bad condition, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Around 2,000 of the state's dams were built with federal help in the wake of the great drought of the 1950s. Almost all of those are now past or nearing their projected 50-year lifespan, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. listen and read more.

2. How Hundreds of 'Significant Hazard' Dams Escape State Inspection in Texas
10-15-13 | NPR | By Mose Bruchele

In 2008, the Texas State Auditor's office released the kind of report that keeps public officials awake at night.  It found that state regulators were not ensuring the proper maintenance of thousands of dams in Texas. The audit found that state inspectors had never visited hundreds of dams that could cause loss of life if they failed. listen and read more

3. Want to Learn About a Nearby Dam? In Texas, Some Questions Are Off Limits
10-16-13 | NPR | By Mose Bruchele

In the FEMA booklet "Living with Dams," the agency urges people to "ask questions" about the condition and hazard rating of dams near their homes. But here in Texas, no one needs to answer those questions. listen and read more

4. Aging Dams, Booming Growth, and the Search for Solutions
10-17-13 | NPR | By Mose Bruchele

Aging and lack of maintenance are affecting both private and public dams in the state, but so is an absence of money says Warren Samuelson, the Manager of the Dam Safety Program for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. "What we need is what some other states have done, they've designated a pot of money where owners can come in that have issues with their dam and try to get some funds based upon whatever criteria is set up," Samuelson said. listen and read more

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Lewisville Lake Dam in need of repairs, officials say
09-03-13 | Dallas Morning News | By Wendy Hundley

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for ways to shore up the 58-year-old Lewisville Lake Dam after a study found that its deteriorating condition put it in a "very high risk" category.
Officials stress that there's no immediate danger of the dam breaching. But the level of concern is heightened because of the density of the population downstream. "Dam failure is not likely, not at all," Anita Branch, project engineer for the corps' Fort Worth District, said at a public meeting in Lewisville. The meeting that drew about 45 residents sought public input as the corps begins a three-year initiative to determine the best ways to repair the 6-mile-long structure. read more

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First federal flood-control inspection finds flawed levees across U.S.
01-17-13 | Dallas Morning News | by John Flesher and Cain Burdeau

NEW ORLEANS — Inspectors taking the first-ever inventory of flood control systems overseen by the federal government have found hundreds of structures at risk of failing and endangering people and property in 37 states. read more
Related
Dallas' Trinity River levees deemed safe after long and expensive process

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Scientists warn of increased risks to Texas from hurricanes and tropical storms
08-29-12 | Dallas Morning News | by Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer

Hurricane Isaac's arrival on the Louisiana coast — on the seventh anniversary of Katrina — points out a growing danger in Texas.
Scientists warn that risks from hurricanes and tropical storms striking Texas' long, low coast are increasing. Causes, they say, include faster sea-level rise and stronger hurricanes from global warming, wetlands destruction and coastal development. read more

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Dallas proposal would allow drilling near levees
05-20-12 | Dallas Morning News | by Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is so concerned that natural-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing might damage its dams and levees that it doesn't want any wells within 3,000 feet of them. Not so the city of Dallas. Already, it has collected millions of dollars by leasing out possible gas-drilling land that's slap up against its Dallas Floodway levees — land that would be undrillable if Dallas adopted the corps' policy. read more

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Corps and Dallas city officials explain cheaper fixes for Trinity River levees
10-04-11 | Austin American-Statesman | by Steve Thompsonand Michael A. Lindeberger

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dropped its opposition to a cheaper fix for the Trinity River levees long supported by Dallas city officials, announcing Monday that the city may use a less-expensive material to erect seepage walls needed to protect the troubled levees. That will bring the cost of repairs to Dallas' flood-protection system down by millions of dollars. What it doesn't guarantee, however, is that the repairs will meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency's requirement that the levees protect Dallas from a 100-year flood. read more

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Most Texas dams would go unregulated under House-passed bill
05-08-11 | Austin American-Statesman | by Tim Eaton

The vast majority of dams in Texas would no longer have to meet state safety requirements if a Fort Worth lawmaker gets his way.

The proposal by Rep. Charlie Geren to end state oversight of most dams came up on April 19 during a long day of debate on a bill to continue the operations of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates private and public dams. Geren, a Fort Worth Republican, portrayed it as a tweak in the legislation designed to protect rural farmers and ranchers. It passed without objection. read more

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Dam repairs: Lake Athens routine changes to be made
03-09-11 | The Athens Review | by Jon Humphries

ATHENS — On Tuesday, the Municipal Water Authority agreed to spend $236,442 on needed repairs to the Lake Athens Dam. The repairs come on the recommendation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, following their recent inspection of the dam. read more

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Environmental group sues to obtain Falcon Dam safety records
02-01-11 | ValleyCentral.com | Joey Horta
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit to get their hands on documents related to the safety of Falcon Dam. The Falcon Lakereservoir is the Rio Grande Valley's main water supply. read more

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Safety of Rio Grande Dams in Question – U.S. Agency Sued to Disclose Flooding Maps, Emergency Plans and Dam Conditions
01-31-11 | Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility | Kirsten Stade
Washington, DC —The safety of two large international storage dams on the Rio Grande River and the adequacy of emergency plans in the event of failure are at the heart of a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). A federal border agency's refusal to release repair status reports, inundation maps and preparedness plans leaves communities on both sides of the border in the dark about chances of and damage from flooding due to dam and levee breaks. read more

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City OKs plan for lake emergency
01-21-11 | dailysentinel.com | by Robbie Goodrich

A 2011 requirement by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is making owners of dams file a plan of action should there be a failure in the dam. The Lake Nacogdoches Emergency Action Plan approved earlier this week by the city council delineates procedures necessary to deal with a potential or actual breach of the Lake Nacogdoches dam. The plan outlines contacts and the fan-out of phone calls that would occur in the event there may be a danger or a hazard from dam failure or dam over-topping. Creating the plan was a requirement of TCEQ and had nothing to do with a fear that the Lake Nacogdoches dam might fail. read more

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Hundreds testify at Dallas hearing on safety of ash from coal-burning power plants
11-26-2010 | Dallas Morning News| By Randy Lee Loftis

Hundreds of people packed a public hearing Wednesday in Dallas to sound off on a federal proposal to label the ash from coal-burning power plants a hazardous waste. Texas, the nation's biggest coal-burning state, also leads in producing coal ash. Power companies either bury it in landfills or impoundment ponds, or sell it for use in concrete, bricks and other products. read more

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When 'Judge Wolff cried wolf'
10-09-2010 | mysanantonio.com | by John W. Gonzalez

Eight years after drawing brickbats for questioning the stability of Medina Dam, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has received thanks – and a symbolic piece of the dam – from the entity that operates the nearly century-old structure. read more

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Interview with Ron Butler, of DamSafetyAction.org, on KETR, 88.9 in Commerce
09-03-10 | KETR 88.9 | interviewed by Scott Harvey

Tropical storms moving inland and seasonally heavy rains can stress Texas dams that pose a significant hazard potential. Emergency Action Plans help dam owners, emergency managers, and area residents be prepared if there is a problem with a dam. listen to the interview

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State keeping eye on dams and levees
07-19-2010 | The Brownsville Herald | Emma Perez-Treviño

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has been keeping an eye on the operations of the dams and levees in South Texas, according to public records. read more

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Safety may be jeopardized as Rio Grande dams need repair
07-18-2010 | The Brownsville Herald | Emma Perez-Treviño

The Rio Grande Valley remains possibly at risk after officials have not followed longstanding recommendations to shore up river dams along the U.S.-Mexico border. read more

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Retaining pond dam breaks, floods neighborhood
06-09-2010 | mysanantonio.com | by Eva Ruth Moravec

A gopher hole may be to blame for a retention pond's broken dam that flooded a South Bexar County neighborhood early Wednesday, causing about 30 people to be evacuated, authorities said. read more

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Agents feared Mexican drug cartel attack on border dam
06-02-2010 | chron.com | by Dane Schiller and James Pinkerton

An alleged plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a dam along the Texas border — and unleash billions of gallons of water into a region with millions of civilians — sent American police, federal agents and disaster officials secretly scrambling last month to thwart such an attack, authorities confirmed Wednesday. read more

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Update on Texas Dams (PDF)
2009 | by Martha F. Juch

According to the old adage, a flood can be expected to end a drought in Texas. September finally brought rain to central Texas, and although some localized flooding occurred, the good news is that we are better prepared for future rainfall events due the actions of our state politicians during the most recent 81st Texas Legislature. Responding to data gathered from both House and Senate Interim Studies and associated hearings, several key actions have been taken in Texas to improve Dam Safety this year. read more

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Enhancing Dam Safety for Texas
09-24-2009 | tceq.state.tx.us | by Liz Carmack

The TCEQ Dam Safety Program, which monitors and regulates both private and public dams in Texas, is expanding. Dams are a vital part of the national infrastructure and provide an infinite number of benefits to society. Dams provide drinking water, flood protection, renewable hydroelectric power, navigation, irrigation, and recreation. However, dams can also represent a public safety issue. A dam failure can result in loss of life, economic disaster, and extensive environmental damage. read more

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Owners lose lake after dam breaks
01-09-2008 | news8austin.com | by Veronica Castelo

Dams in Texas are in trouble. They're aging, they're surrounded by homes they were not built to protect, and they are not being inspected. Last week Rhine Lake dam in Van Zandt County failed. Rhine Lake is about 70 miles east-southeast of Dallas. read more

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The enormous US dam problem no one is talking about
01-03-2006 | csmonitor.com | by Gaylord Shaw

The landscape of America, at last count, is dotted with 79,272 large dams. Most of them safely deliver bountiful benefits - trillions of gallons of water for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use, plus flood control, recreation, hydroelectric power, and navigation. That's the good news. Here, in my opinion, is the bad news: Disaster lurks in thousands of those dams. read more

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Town faces up to Rita challenges
09-25-2005 | news.bbc.co.uk | by Verity Murphy

Livingston has a population of 10,000, most of whom stayed put during the storm as Hurricane Rita was not expected to hit here. Most homes are without power and have damaged roofs. Police chief Clifton Dennis says there are an extra 6,000 people in the town, who fled here from Houston. read more