Michigan disaster reinforces the importance of dam safety

Michigan disaster reinforces the importance of dam safety

May 31 marks National Dam Safety Awareness Day.  An aspect of our society’s infrastructure that is often overlooked, dams are in the spotlight after a recent failure led to the evacuation of thousands of people in the U.S.

Two aging, earthen dams collapsed in Michigan earlier this month following heavy rainfall. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), there are more than 2,100 deficient high-hazard dams in the country that would cost about $45 billion to repair. The number of hazardous dams keeps growing, as the cost of repairs keeps dam owners, often private citizens or entities, from investing in the infrastructure.

After being built to power mills or generate electricity, thousands of dams across America are no longer serving their original design purpose. While some dams are still crucial for drinking water, power or irrigation, many exist solely to prevent water from inundating developed property.

WithersRavenel offers a full suite of dam design and rehabilitation services as part of our dedicated Stormwater Department. Our co-founder Sam Ravenel helped write some of North Carolina’s earliest regulations on dam safety while working for the state, and he continues to serve our clients with dam projects.

WithersRavenel recently completed a contract with NCDEQ, Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources (DEMLR), Dam Safety to perform hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of existing high hazard dams in the Neuse and Lumber River Basins. We’re ready to help North Carolina property owners evaluate dams, limit liabilities and understand their options. For more information on the services we provide to public and private dam owners, click here.