If your community has a dam or is in close proximity to one, you are probably concerned about public safety and the risk of expensive property damage in case of failure. This is especially true if the dam is among the 15,600 now classified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as having “high-hazard potential” or HHP. HHP, by definition, means that dam failure could result in loss of life.  

FEMA is committing more than $211 million in funding to enhance dam safety efforts nationwide through February 24, 2024. Of this funding, which is now application-ready at Grants.gov, roughly $185 million will come from the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams program. Approximately $26 million will be made available through the National Dam Safety State Assistance Grant Program. The investments (funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) will help protect communities from flooding, avoid disaster costs, and strengthen resilience to climate change. 

No dam is floodproof. As man-made structures, they will inevitably have an increased risk of failure over time. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), such failures are most likely to happen for one of five reasons:  

  1. Overtopping caused by water spilling over the top of the dam 
  2. Foundation defects (these cause about 30% of all dam failures)