MDEQ promotes National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Published 2:04 pm Monday, May 31, 2021

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is one of a number of agencies nationally observing National Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31.
This event occurs on May 31 of each year to commemorate the failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889. That dam failure resulted in the loss of more than 2,200 lives and was the worst dam failure in the history of the United States. The day is promoted by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials to encourage and promote individual and community responsibility for dam safety as well as to provide information on what steps can be taken to prevent future catastrophic dam failures.
“Dams allow Mississippians to enjoy our many beautiful public and private lakes across this great state, but they also require maintenance and active oversight to protect these wonderful resources and the health, safety, and property of fellow citizens,” said MDEQ Executive Director Chris Wells.
The goal of the MDEQ Dam Safety Division is to protect people and property from the damaging consequences of catastrophic dam failures. The design life of a dam is normally 40 years so they have to be maintained and rehabilitated to extend their lifespan. Annually, there are a number of dam failures in Mississippi including some that have caused significant property damage, but there have been no fatalities in Mississippi attributed to a dam failure.
MDEQ aims to provide sufficient oversight of the operational safety and structural integrity of dams in Mississippi to minimize the possibility of a life-threatening catastrophic failure occurring at a dam that falls under its jurisdiction.  This happens by working with dam owners to repair and modify their dams or to take dams out of service that are past the point of repair. According to Mississippi regulations, all dam owners are required to inspect their dam every 60 days and after significant weather events to look for signs of fatigue or damage. Dam owners are required to report any changes or issues to the MDEQ Dam Safety Division.
For more information on dam maintenance and emergency prevention measures, visit www.mdeq.ms.gov/dam-safety.