A more than two-year-long investigation by the Associated Press has identified 1,688 dams across 44 states and Puerto Rico that are in poor or unsatisfactory condition and could result in life-threatening floods if they fail.
AP’s David A. Lieb, Michael Casey and Michelle Minkoff write that the actual number is likely higher: “Some states declined to provide condition ratings for their dams, claiming exemptions to public record requests. Others simply haven’t rated all their dams due to lack of funding, staffing or authority to do so.”
The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that it would cost more than $70 billion to repair and modernize the more than 90,000 dams in the United States. “But unlike much other infrastructure,” the AP reporters explain, “most U.S. dams are privately owned. That makes it difficult for regulators to require improvements from operators who are unable or unwilling to pay the steep costs.”