From the Associated Press (David A. Lieb):
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday called for more federal money and oversight to shore up the nation’s aging dams following an Associated Press investigation that found scores of potentially troubling dams located near homes and communities across the country.
Gillibrand said new legislation in the works should ensure that federal standards are in place to make dams more resilient to extreme weather events that are becoming more common because of a changing climate. She also called for greater funding for federal grants to fix unsafe dams that pose a risk to the public.
“We should not wait for a catastrophic dam failure or major flooding event to spur us to action,” Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, said in a letter to leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is crafting a new water resources bill. Gillibrand is a member of the committee.
She cited an AP analysis published last month that used federal data and state open records laws to identify at least 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The AP analysis noted that the actual number is almost certainly higher, because some states haven’t rated all their dams and several states declined to release full data.
The AP’s investigation focused on high-hazard dams — which could kill people if they were to fail — that were found by inspectors to be in the worst condition. Georgia led the way with 198 high-hazard dams in unsatisfactory or poor condition, followed by North Carolina with 168 and Pennsylvania with 145. New York had 48 such dams.