National Dam Inspection Act

Public Law 92-367

92nd congress, H.R. 1595

August 8, 1972

An Act

To authorize the Secretary of the Army to
undertake a national program of inspection of dams.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the term "dam" as used in this Act means any artificial barrier, including appurtenant works, which impounds or diverts water, and which (1) is twenty-five feet or more in height from the natural base of the stream or watercourse measured at the downstream toe of the barrier, or from the lowest elevation of the outside limit of the barrier, if it is not across a stream channel or watercourse, to the maximum water storage elevation or (2) has an impounding capacity at maximium water storage elevation of fifty acre-feet or more. This Act does not apply to any such barrier which is not in excess of six feet in height, regardless of storage capacity or which has a storage capacity at maximum water storage elevation not in excess of fifteen acre-feet, regardless of height.

Sec. 2. As soon as practicable, the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, shall carry out a national program of inspection of dams for the purpose of protecting human life and property. All dams in the United States shall be inspected by the Secretary except (1) dams under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or the International Boundary and Water Commission, (2) dam which have been constructed persuant to licenses issued under the authority of the Federal Power Act, (3) dams which have been inspected within the twelve-month period immediately prior to the enactment of this Act by a State agency and which the Governor of such State requests be excluded from inspection, and (4) dams which the Secretary of the Army determines do not pose any threat to human life or property. The Secretary may inspect dams which have been licensed under the Federal Power act upon request of the Federal Power Commission and dams under the jurisdiction of the International Boundary and Water Commission upon request of such Commission.

Sec. 3. As soon as practicable after inspection of a dam, the Secretary shall notify the Governor of the State in which such dam is located the results of such investigation. The Secretary shall immediately notify the Governor of any hazardous conditions found during an inspection. The Secretary shall provide advice to the Governor, upon request, relating to timely remedial measures necessary to mitigate or obviate any hazardous conditions found during an inspection.

Sec. 4. For the purpose of determining whether a dam (including the waters impoundede by such dam) constitutes a danger to human life or property, the Secretary shall take into consideration the possibility that the dam might be endangered by overtopping, seepage, settlement, erosion, sediment, cracking, earth movement, earthquakes, failure of bulkheads, flashboard, gates on conduits, or other conditions which exist or which might occur in any area in the vicinity of the dam.

Sec. 5. The Secretary shall report to the Congress on or before July 1, 1974, on his activities under the Act, which report shall include, but not be limited to -

  1. an inventory of all dams located in the United States;
  2. a review of each inspection made, the recommendations furnished to the Governor of the State in which such dam is located and information as to the implementation of such recommendation;
  3. recommendations for a comprehensive national program for the inspection, and regulation for safety purpose of dams of the Nation, and the respective responsibilities which should be assumed by Federal, state, and local governments and by public and private interests.

Sec. 6. Nothing contained in this Act and no action or failure to act under this Act shall be construed (1) to create any liability in the United States or its officers or employees for the recovery of damages caused by such action or failure to act; or (2) to relieve an owner or operator of a dam of the legal duties, obligations, or liabilities incident to the ownership or operation of the dam.

Approved August 8, 1972