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Outreach campaign aims to inform Virginia dam owners

conservationVirginia dam safety officials have launched a statewide outreach campaign to remind dam owners of their responsibilities under the law.

The campaign is a project of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that oversees the state dam safety program.

DCR aims to reach dam owners through various channels such as social media posts and public service announcements.

PSAs will air on radio stations through a partnership with the Virginia Association of Broadcasters.

Messages reinforce basic requirements of the Virginia Dam Safety Act, which grants DCR authority to regulate dams of certain heights and impounding capacities.

The campaign runs through October.

“Owners of state-regulated dams need to be aware of their responsibilities under the Virginia Dam Safety Act,” said Wendy Howard-Cooper, DCR director of dam safety and floodplain management. “We hope this campaign will enable us to reach dam owners across the commonwealth, as well as the general public who may have questions or concerns about a dam in their community.”

The Virginia Dam Safety Act was established in 1982 to ensure dam owners operate their dams in a manner that protects public safety.

Dam failures can result in catastrophic flooding, putting people and property at risk.

The act specifies steps dam owners must take to be in compliance, such as:

  • 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 may be liable for damages to other people’s property, injuries or deaths resulting from the failure or malfunction of their dam.

DCR regulates more than 2,600 dams in Virginia. Most are privately owned.

The agency has led statewide outreach campaigns for other initiatives such as Virginia Flood Awareness Week in March and National Dam Safety Awareness Day in May.

More information is available at