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Florida Dam Safety Program

Dam Safety Alerts

In the event of a potentially life-threatening dam safety emergency, immediately call 911 and the State Watch Office at 800-320-0519.

To report an incident or emergency at a dam, contact your water management district (WMD) or Tracy Woods, P.G., State Dam Safety Officer (SDSO), at 850-274-3636. 

Florida Dam Information Survey

If you are the owner or owner's representative of a dam located in the state of Florida, please tell us about your dam by completing the Florida Dam Information Survey. 

Dam Safety Training Events

The Florida Dam Safety Program (FDSP) provides training for dam owners/operators, regulatory staff, professionals, and interested parties 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) and managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Usually, two annual training events are offered. The dam owners' workshop is provided in the spring and the technical seminar is offered in the fall.

2024 FDSP Dam Owner Workshop: "The Need-To-Know Basics of Owning a Dam" was provided virtually on May 7, 2024, by Mr. Eric Ditchey, P.E., through the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) and DEP. This training emphasizes practical, straightforward information on topics of importance to anyone who owns or operates a dam. The recording is available until May 7, 2025.

Fall 2024 FDSP Technical Seminar: The course, “Inspection and Assessment of Dams,” is tentatively scheduled to be offered virtually on Nov. 18-20, 2024, by Dr. Paul Schwieger, P.E., and Dr. Dean Durkee, P.E., Gannett Fleming, Inc., through ASDSO and DEP. This seminar provides comprehensive instruction in inspection and evaluation techniques for dams. There is no registration fee for this highly technical training event that will provide up to 19 PDHs for Professional Engineers. The agenda and registration link will be available in the fall.

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. Visit the ASDSO's Take Action and Be Prepared website to learn more about the importance of dams.

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. We encourage you to know your risk, know your role, know the benefits of dams and take action.

FDSP is composed of DEP, Northwest Florida WMD, Suwannee River WMD, St. Johns River WMD Southwest Florida WMD and South Florida WMD 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 NDSP grant administered by 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.
  3. Promote research and training of the public and government staff.

Florida's NDSP grant is managed by the 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 statewide 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 ASDSO, 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 located in Florida that are listed in the NID meet at least one of the following four criteria:

  • High Hazard Potential dams - Loss of human life is likely if the dam fails.
  • Significant Hazard Potential dams - No probable loss of human life but can cause economic loss, environmental damage, disruption of lifeline facilities or other impacts.
  • The dam is equal to or exceeds 25 feet in height and exceeds 15 acre-feet in storage.
  • The dam exceeds six feet in height and is equal to or exceeds 50 acre-feet in storage.  

Emergency Action Plans

Owners of High Hazard Potential and Significant Hazard Potential dams are strongly encouraged to develop EAPs to provide a comprehensive and consistent plan to implement in the event of a developing or imminent emergency in order to protect lives and reduce damage to property, infrastructure, and wetlands and other surface waters.

The EAP Template for Florida Dams and accompanying Instruction Manual, dated January 2023, are available to simplify the preparation of an emergency plan, reduce cost, provide consistency between individual EAPs, and identify effective lines of communication between Florida's dam owners, FDSP staff and the Florida emergency management community.

Permitting Assistance 

The construction, operation, alteration, repair or abandonment of a dam, impoundment, reservoir and other works may require an Environmental Resource Permit under Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code. 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.

Each WMD handles projects located in their region that are associated with commercial and office development, residential subdivisions and apartments, roadways, highways and most other large-scale development. Permitting information:

Dam Owner and Operator Resources

Free educational videos, fact sheets, guidance and other resources are available for dam owners and operators on the ASDSO’s Resources for Dam Owners and Operators webpage. Review 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 PE, EAPs, 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.

National Dam Safety Awareness Day is May 31. Visit the ASDSO's Take Action and Be Prepared website to learn more about the importance of dams, which are equal to bridges, roads and airports in our nation’s infrastructure. Dam safety is a shared responsibility, and we encourage you to know your risk, know your role, know the benefits of dams and take action.

Dam Safety Professional Engineers List

If you would like to be added to a list of PEs 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.

Last Modified:
June 5, 2024 - 12:38pm

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