• DAM EMERGENCIESPreparing Communities for Dam-Related Emergencies

    There are more than 90,000 dams registered in the U.S. National Inventory of Dams across the country. But we rarely hear about them until the worst happens: one of them fails. Extreme weather events and the aging dam infrastructure are making dam-related emergency action plans more critical than ever.

  • WATER SECURITYDoes Drought-Prone California Need Another Reservoir?

    By Felicity Barringer

    For a century, California and the West have grappled with the job of storing water. The first half of the 20th century was the heyday of western dams; now many of them are aging; they were designed for the needs and values of another era. Is California “dammed out?” Or could increasing reservoir capacity help the state ride out the new era of aridification?

  • DAMSFEMA Funding Opportunities for Dam Safety

    There are 90,000 dams in the United States, many of them old and poorly maintained. FEMA will commit $33 million for two funding opportunities to enhance dam safety efforts across the United States.

  • DAMSClimate Change Contributor to 2017 Oroville Dam Spillway Incident

    A one-two punch of precipitation resulted in damage to Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways pushing the second largest dam in California into a crisis in February 2017. Researchers say that they have identified the fingerprint of climate change in the events that triggered the incident. Issues with the dam’s spillways led to the evacuation of 188,000 people.

  • DamsBipartisan Legislation Addresses Dams’ Safety, Hydropower

    There are more than 90,000 dams in the U.S., including 6,000 “high-hazard” dams with poor, unsatisfactory, or unknown safety ratings, posing threats to life and property. Hydropower is responsible for 6 percent of electricity production in the U.S.— and more than 90 percent of the U.S. current electricity storage capacity — but the dams which generate this power are aging and need upgrades.

  • DamsWater Dispute on the Nile River Could Destabilize the Region

    By Gary Polakovic

    The rapid filling of a giant dam at the source of the world’s longest river could reduce the water supplies going to Egypt and increase tensions with Ethiopia, a new study finds.

  • DamsRole of Dams in Reducing Global Flood Risks under Climate Change

    Flood is amongst the costliest natural disasters. Globally, flood risk is projected to increase in the future, driven by climate change and population growth. The role of dams in flood mitigation, previously unaccounted for, was found to decrease by approximately 15 percent the number of people globally exposed to historical once-in-100-year floods, downstream of dams during the twenty-first century.

  • DamsAging Dams Pose Growing Threat

    By 2050, most people on Earth will live downstream of tens of thousands of large dams built in the twentieth century, many of them already operating at or beyond their design life. Increasingly expensive to maintain, experts foresee a trend to decommissioning dams.

  • FloodsA Warming California Will See Reservoirs Overwhelmed by Floods

    By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state.

  • DamsDo Two Failed Dams Foretell a Dire Future?

    By Upmanu Lall and Paulina Concha Larrauri

    Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall events and hence the risk for filling and overtopping dams, which is the predominant mechanism of dam failure. However, using climate change as a bogeyman for aging infrastructure failure is an unfortunate trend, since it takes attention away from an urgent and potentially fixable problem.

  • DamsWhen Dams Cause More Problems Than They Solve, Removing Them Can Pay Off for People and Nature

    By Jon Honea

    Across the United States, dams generate hydroelectric power, store water for drinking and irrigation, control flooding and create recreational opportunities such as slack-water boating and waterskiing. But dams can also threaten public safety, especially if they are old or poorly maintained.

  • FloodsMichigan Governor Vows Legal Action After Devastating Floods

    Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the state will pursue “every line of legal recourse” against the owners of one of two dams that failed earlier this week, causing severe flooding in several communities. More than 10,000 residents in the central town of Midland were evacuated Wednesday as the Tittabawassee River overran its banks hours after the Edenville Dam, located 32 kilometers north, failed after several days of heavy seasonal rains.

  • InfrastructureBrazil: Court Accepts Homicide Charges over Dam Collapse Which Killed 270

    In January 2019, more than 270 were killed, thousands of homes destroyed, and large tracts of agricultural land poisoned when Brazil’s Brumadinho dam collapsed, releasing tons of toxic sludge. Last week, a Brazilian judge accepted the prosecution’s argument that 16 employees of Brazilian mining giant Vale the company’s German safety auditor should stand trial for intentional homicide. Documents show that Vale’s former CEO and the German auditors colluded to falsify engineering reports which warned about the dam’s structural weakness. Separately, German prosecutors said that they would file charged of negligent homicide and bribery against the German safety auditors.

  • LeveesFlooding Damage to Levees Is Cumulative—and Often Invisible

    Recent research finds that repeated flooding events have a cumulative effect on the structural integrity of earthen levees, suggesting that the increase in extreme weather events associated with climate change could pose significant challenges for the nation’s aging levee system.

  • Perspective: DamsDams Across the U.S. Pose Potential Risk

    A more than two-year investigation by the Associated Press has found scores of dams around the United States in various states of disrepair, located in areas where a breach might place thousands in danger. These aging dams loom over homes, businesses, highways, or entire communities which could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates it would take more than $70 billion to repair and modernize the nation’s more than 90,000 dams. But unlike much other infrastructure, most U.S. dams are privately owned. That makes it difficult for regulators to require improvements from operators who are unable or unwilling to pay the steep costs.