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National Dam Safety Awareness Day - May 31


"On this day, we remember the lessons learned from past dam failures, push for strong dam safety programs, encourage investment in America's critical infrastructure and rededicate ourselves to the effective public-private partnerships that work to keep America's dams safe, operational and resilient.” – Association of State Dam Safety Officials

The History of National Dam Safety Day

National Dam Safety Awareness Day is observed on May 31 to remember the South Fork Dam failure in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on May 31, 1889. This disaster resulted in the loss of over 2,200 lives, making it the worst dam failure in the history of the United States. The day aims to promote individual and community responsibility for dam safety, encourage best practices, and educate people on preventing future dam failures or minimizing their impact. Additionally, the day seeks to highlight the benefits that dams provide.

Recent Updates Regarding Dam Safety in Vermont

Status of S.213

The bill, if approved, would change statutory provisions concerning dam safety. Specifically, it seeks to rename the Vermont Unsafe Dam Revolving Loan Fund the Vermont Dam Safety Revolving Loan Fund and expand and modify project eligibility requirements. The changes would make funds available for both emergency and non-emergency projects.

The bill would establish a Study Committee on Dam Emergency Operations Planning. This committee would be responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on improving regional emergency action planning for hazards caused by dam failure. Specifically, the committee would study how to shift responsibility for emergency planning from individual municipalities to regional authorities, improve regional implementation of dam emergency response plans, and fund dam emergency action planning at the regional level.

The bill would also transfer safety oversight of power-producing dams from the Public Utility Commission to Dam Safety, with provisions for petitioning FERC to take jurisdiction of dams appropriate for Federal regulation.

To implement these requirements, the state budget included funding for additional dam safety staff and the dam safety revolving fund.

Waterbury Dam Risk Reduction Measures

The Vermont Dam Safety Program is actively addressing the degraded concrete and structurally deficient radial arm flood gate at the Waterbury Dam, a crucial step towards promoting dam safety. Recent risk reduction measures include strut arm reinforcement and a Heli-lift to aid in underpinning the spillway bridge. These measures will remain in place until the Spillway Project is complete. For more detailed information about the Waterbury dam risk reduction measures, please refer to the link provided below.

Waterbury Dam Spillway Project (2022-2029) - Currently in Design/Field Exploration

 Waterbury Aerial Lift Waterbury

A Walk through the history of Waterbury Dam!

In recognition of National Dam Safety Awareness Day (NDSAD), the Vermont Dam Safety Program has developed a tour of the Waterbury Dam that covers the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 's construction of the dam in 1938, changes that have been made to the dam since then, and current projects to improve the dam. You may access the tour in a couple of ways.

The first is by downloading the audio file below to your smartphone or tablet. This audio will lead you on a walking tour, beginning at the top of Little River Road, along the road on the crest of the dam, pointing out visual clues that represent changes made to the dam throughout its history. Please park at the boat launch. Continue your day by exploring Little River State Park by land or water, or head over to the Camp Smith Trail for a walk through the historic CCC camp inhabited during dam construction.

If you cannot make it to the dam, you can also watch our video on YouTube, which guides you across the dam. Watch the video, then make a visit to the dam and see for yourself! - WATERBURY DAM HISTORICAL TOUR VIDEO


Questions? Contact Ben Green at