news dcr encourages virginia dam owners to prioritize safety

DCR encourages Virginia dam owners to prioritize safety

hearthstone lake dam
Hearthstone Lake from atop its recently rehabilitated dam. Photo courtesy Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Hurricane season brings fall rains with winter storms around the corner.

Virginia dam safety officials are encouraging dam owners that dam failures can result in catastrophic flooding, and put people and property at risk.

More than 3,000 dams are in the Commonwealth, according to a press release from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). All but two lakes have dams. The DCR oversees the state dam safety program and regulates more than 2,600 dams in the Commonwealth.

Most Virginia dams are privately owned, and owners may be liable for damages to other people’s property, injuries or deaths resulting from the failure or malfunction of their dam.

“Owners of state-regulated dams need to be aware of their responsibilities under the Virginia Dam Safety Act,” Wendy Howard-Cooper, DCR Director of Dam Safety and Floodplain Management, said in the press release. “We are committed to working with dam owners across the commonwealth to ensure that these structures are constructed, operated and maintained safely. We are also here for the general public, who may have questions or concerns about a dam in their community.”

To comply with the Virginia Dam Safety Act, dam owners are encouraged to do the following:

  • Register their dam with a Certificate of Operation and Maintenance through DCR.
  • Determine the dam’s hazard classification.
  • Have periodic inspections and perform routine maintenance and repairs.
  • File an Emergency Action Plan or Emergency Preparedness Plan with DCR and local authorities.

Dam owners or residents with questions or concerns about dam safety compliance may contact DCR.

Information on DCR’s dam safety program is available online.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.