Chronology of Major Events in U.S. Dam Safety

1600 Spanish colonists made diversions in New Mexico on the Rio Grande and other streams.
1634 One of the first American water power projects at Lower Falls, Neponset River, Massachusetts, was completed.
1824 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began water project development on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
1868 Compaction in earthfill construction first recommended.
1874 Failure of the Mill River Dam in Massachusetts due to uncontrolled seepage.
1889 Failure of South Fork Dam in the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania due to overtopping.
1913 W. E. Fuller proposes a flood frequency formula for flood estimation.
January 27, 1916 Failure of Lower Otay Dam in San Diego, California due to flood overtopping.
June 29, 1925 Failure of Sheffield Dam in Santa Barbara, California due to seismic forces.
March 12, 1928 Failure of St. Francis Dam in Los Angeles County, California focuses public scrutiny on safety of dams in the U.S.
1933 The Procter test revolutionized the design and construction of earthfills.
1965 The Federal Power Commission issued Order No. 315 defining the responsibilities of power licensees to ensure safe construction and operation of
August 8, 1972 Public attention to the hazards created by water reservoirs after the February 26, 1972 failure of a mine tailings embankment at Buffalo Creek, West Virginia led to the enactment of the National Dam Inspection Act (Public Law 92-367).
May, 1975 The Army Corps of Engineers issued a report, "National Program of Inspection of Dams" including an inventory of U.S. dams and inspection guidelines.
June 5, 1976 Failure of Teton Dam in Idaho due to internal erosion. This failure led to widespread review by federal agencies regarding dam inspection, evaluation, and modification.
November 6, 1977 Failure of the Kelly Barnes Lake Dam in Toccoa, Georgia.  There were 39 fatalities due to the resulting flood. 
1979 Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety was published.
1982 U.S. Committee on Large Dams (USCOLD) passed a resolution urging state governments to give high priority to enacting dam safety legislation and to allocating resources to dam supervision.
1984 Morgan Hill earthquake near San Jose, California brought new attention to dam safety.
1985 National Research Council issued the report "Safety of Dams: Flood and Earthquake Criteria."
1985 The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) became active. The Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (ICODS) formed.
1994 National Performance of Dams Program (NPDP) officially started.
October 12, 1996 The Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-303) was signed into law by President Clinton.  A National Dam Safety Program was established (Section 215 of Public Law 104-303).