Emergency Action Planning



Dam Own Responsibilities

Dam Owner Responsibilities

Liability and Responsibility Rest with the Dam Owner

Who Owns the Dams?

Texas Dams by Owner bar graph: Public Utility-138, Private-4382, Local Gov't-2502, State-48, Federal-100, Unknown-0
Breakout of Texas Dam Ownership
Source: National Inventory of Dams 2009
United States Dams by Owner bar graph: Public Utility-1707, Private-57508, Local Gov't-16536, State-4232, Federal-3075, Unknown-481
Breakout of U.S. Dam Ownership
Source: National Inventory of Dams 2009

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes in its overview of dam ownership in the United States that Dam owners are responsible for the safety and the liability of the dam and for financing its upkeep, upgrade, and repair.

Although most infrastructure facilities, such as roads, bridges, and sewer systems, are owned by public entities, the majority of dams in the United States are privately owned. In general, very large dams are owned and regulated by the Federal Government.

Given the diffuse nature of dam ownership versus regulation in the United States, it is apparent that dam safety and security are often not solely a federal, state, or local issue. The safety and security of a dam can affect persons and property across local, state, and even national borders. An incident in one area can affect commerce, navigation, and power generation and distribution, or it can cause severe damage in another area.

For most dam owners and managers, a failure of their dam would be a personal as well as a legal calamity. Many owners are local residents and know the people, businesses, schools, and other institutions that would be impacted by an inundation.