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Florida Dam Safety Program

National Dam Safety Awareness Day is May 31

Visit the Association of State Dam Safety Official's website to learn more about the importance of dams, which are equal in importance to bridges, roads, and airports, in our nation's infrastructure. As dam safety is a shared responsibility, we encourage you to know your risk, know your role, know the benefits of dams, and take action.

Dam Safety Alerts

Contact: Tracy Woods (Tracy.Woods@FloridaDEP.gov) or 850-245-7530 (office) or 850-274-3636 (emergency cell).

Dam Safety Training Events

2021 Dam Owners Workshop

The Florida Dam Safety Program provides education to dam owners on the importance of dam safety to reduce the risk of loss of life and damage to property, infrastructure, and the environment. Funding is provided in part by an annual National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) State Assistance grant administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One of the educational opportunities we provide is our annual Dam Owners Workshop, which emphasizes the importance of dam inspections, maintenance and repair, and emergency preparedness.

The free virtual 2021 Dam Owners Workshop was held on April 8, 2021, from 10:00 to 02:00 EDT. If you missed this year's event or if you want to share it with others, you can watch the full workshop online.

2021 Florida Dam Safety Program Technical Workshop

This event provides highly technical training for dam engineers, industry specialists, and local, municipal, regional, and state agency personnel. It is hosted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and partially funded through the NDSP State Assistance grant, administered by FEMA. Check back for updates on this year's event date, which is usually in late October.

Dam Safety Stakeholders

Dams are a critical part of Florida's infrastructure for the vital benefits they provide such as flood protection, water supply, irrigation, and recreation. They must be properly maintained throughout their lifespan to operate as intended. As dams age, they require greater attention and investment to ensure their safe operation. Continuous dam safety practices are particularly important for dams that are upstream of human populations, where dam misoperation or failure has the potential for loss of life and property. In this regard, safeguarding dam safety in Florida depends on the involvement of local, regional, state and federal agencies, public and private dam owners and operators, industry specialists and the public. The Florida Dam Safety Program (FDSP) is composed of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Northwest Florida Water Management District, Suwannee River Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and South Florida Water Management District staff who perform grant-funded and regulatory activities to secure the safety of dams and related structures to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the public.  

Grant Activities

The state receives an annual National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) grant, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to fund FDSP undertakings to meet FEMA's objectives to reduce the likelihood of dam failures: 1) reduce the consequences from dam failures; 2) promote public awareness; and 3) promote research and training of the public and government staff. Florida's NDSP grant is managed by the State Dam Safety Officer (SDSO), Tracy Woods, P.G. Grant activities include maintaining Florida’s National Inventory of Dams (NID), assisting dam owners with inundation studies, Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), and Condition Assessments, providing dam safety training, and promoting public awareness. The SDSO also regularly participates in state-wide dam safety emergency mitigation, preparedness, and response activities and coordinates with other DEP and WMD staff to accomplish the state’s dam safety goals. Additionally, the SDSO is Florida's state representative in the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, which is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to improve dam safety through training, supporting state programs and unifying the dam safety community. 

National Inventory of Dams 

Dams that are included in Florida's NID are defined as “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 bed 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 the maximum water storage elevation of fifty acre-feet or more. This definition 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, unless such barrier, due to its location or other physical characteristic, is likely to pose a significant threat to human life or property in the event of its failure.” 

A dam must be assigned a unique NID identification number to be entered into the NID. For qualifying new and existing dams that aren't in the NID, complete the blank NID Database Fields spreadsheet and email it to Tracy Woods, P.G., along with a summary of your project and its permitting status. A NID Database Dictionary is available to assist you in completing the database fields spreadsheet.

Emergency Action Plans

Owners of high hazard potential (HHP) and significant hazard potential (SHP) dams are strongly encouraged to develop EAPs for their dams to provide a comprehensive and consistent plan to implement and follow in the event of a developing or imminent emergency to protect lives and reduce damage to property, infrastructure, and wetlands and other surface waters. The Emergency Action Plan Template for Florida Dams and accompanying Instruction Manual, dated February 2021, are available by emailing Tracy Woods, P.G., or calling 850-245-7530.

Permitting Assistance 

The construction, operation, alteration, repair and abandonment of a dam, impoundment, reservoir and other works may require a permit. The agency responsible for processing a permit application is determined by an "activity-based split" of regulatory authority. In general, DEP processes permits for dams associated with landfills, wastewater treatment, mining, hazardous waste, and potable water treatment facilities. DEP also handles single family and Port Authority dams, as well as dams in a few other categories. Conversely, each WMD handles projects located in their region that are associated with commercial and office development, residential subdivisions and apartments, roadways and highways, and most other large scale development. Permitting information is available on the following links:  

Dam Owner and Operator Resources

Free educational videos, Fact Sheets, guidance, and other resources are available for dam owners and operators on the Association of State Dam Safety's Resources for Dam Owners and Operators webpage. Check out the videos Dams 101, Dam Inspections, Spillways & Outlet Works, and Operation & Maintenance Plans to learn more about caring for your dam. Additionally, there are numerous Fact Sheets covering a wide range of topics, including ownership responsibility and liability; how to procure the services of a Professional Engineer; emergency action planning; earth dam failures; seepage through earthen dams; trees and brush; rodent control; open channel spillways; design and maintenance of trash racks for pipe and riser spillways; inspection of concrete structures, and concrete repair techniques. Other resources include downloadable and On-Demand webinars.

Dam Safety Professional Engineers' List

If you would like to be added to a list of professional engineers who work on dams in Florida, please send your name, company, phone number, email address, and location to Tracy Woods, P.G. This list is being assembled to assist dam owners seeking help with inspections, maintenance, repairs and dam safety emergencies. The list is available upon request for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by DEP.

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Last Modified:
May 12, 2021 - 11:10am

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