ASDSO Dam Safety Toolbox

Public Safety Program Management

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"Dam owners are liable for failures and incidents at their structures. It is important for owners, engineers, and regulators to work together to manage risks and avoid or eliminate hazards at dam structures. There are a number of ways dam professionals can effectively manage risk at their dams. The guidelines developed by the Interagency Committee on Dam Safety and published by FEMA provide a strong framework within which to develop procedures that can successfully minimize risk. Fundamentally, risk management efforts should focus on the following areas:

  1. Maintenance : Make sure that all structures are inspected at least annually. Vandalism, animal activity, plant growth, and natural erosion all have the capacity to damage or destroy dam structures and signage, creating potential hazards on site.
  2. Installation of Safety Measures : Installing appropriate signage, safety buoys and booms, and portage paths are all important ways to keep recreators and the general public away from hazard zones near dams.
  3. Public Education : Communicate with local first responders, recreation outfits, schools, and other relevant bodies to inform them of the location of dams and other hazards, encourage safe practices on waterways, and to develop standard operating procedures to follow in the event of an incident.
  4. Public Safety Reporting : Record incidents that occur at your dams in order to identify gaps, failures, and flaws in existing safety protocols and procedures. Past reports sourced from news archives or dam safety archives can also provide opportunities for corrections that can minimize unnecessary risks to the public.
  5. Social Media Monitoring : Periodically checking internet sources and social media such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and TripAdvisor (to name a few) for location tagged posts can allow dam owners and regulators to identify how the public uses dam structures and find solutions to effectively prevent misuse and unsafe practices." [1]


  1. Public Safety At Dams (, ASDSO, 2022

Revision ID: 5094
Revision Date: 12/09/2022