US DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (DOI)
OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT (OSM)

Home Button Graphic
OSM Library Button Graphic
Applied Science Button Graphic
Training Button Graphic
Educational Outreach Button Graphic
Initiatives Button Graphic
Events Button Graphic
About Us Button Graphic
Button graphic for "News"
Important
& Upcoming
Events!

Read More

NEW!
Image Management
Guide!

Click Here!

Get Info
USAGov
Accessibility
DOI Privacy
OSM Privacy
FOIA
Disclaimer
No Fear Act
Notices

WEBMASTER
OSM-ARweb@osmre.gov

ADDRESS
US Dept. of the Interior
Office of Surface Mining
Washington, DC 20240
202-208-2719

HQ
LAST UPDATED 04/29/2013

Headquarter Technology Transfer Button LinkWestern Region Technology Transfer Button LinkMidcontinent Region Technology Transfer Button LinkAppalachian Region Technology Transfer Button Link

Office of Surface Mining’s Dam Safety Program

Approaches to Dam Safety have evolved throughout the years because of knowledge gained through dam failures.  Dam Safety Programs have become a significant element in many agencies to ensure protection of the public and the environment by reducing risks associated with dams.

Historical events have prompted review of mechanisms to oversee the design, construction, maintenance and operation of dams.  The impact has been so far outreaching that agencies have established Dam Safety Programs, guidelines, directives, departmental manuals to help reduce risks associated with Dams.

The Department of Interior’s (DOI’s) Dam Safety Programs are governed by the following:

  • FEMA 93: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety
  • FEMA 333: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Hazard Potential Classification System for Dams
  • FEMA 64: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Emergency Action Planning for Dam Owners.
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-7
  • Department of Interior, Departmental Manual Part 753: Dam Safety and Security Program.

OSM’s Dam Safety program has progressed through implementation of newer standards of oversight to help reduce the probability of adverse consequences in dams.  OSM’s Dam Safety Work Group is comprised by Regional Dam Safety Representatives, HQ’s Dam Safety Officer and Program Manager. The Dam Safety Work Group works to review current regulations, directives, guidelines and other mechanisms to ensure that current practices are used. 

Each Regional Office has a Dam Safety Representative responsible for providing quarterly updates to the Dam Safety Program Manager.  Part of the representatives’ responsibilities includes inventory update.  The Inventory includes hazard criteria (High, Significant and Low hazard dams), performance indicators, storage capacity, impoundment inspection status, location and other pertinent criteria in accordance with DOISM 753.  The inventory is maintained in a central database at Headquarters (HQ). It is based on the Mine Safety Health Administration’s (MSHA’s) 20 Acre-foot criteria of an inspectable unit.  The OSM Dam Safety Work Group is also working diligently to provide links to flood maps in the database as part of OSM’s emergency planning review and implementation process.  Flood maps and other relevant criteria would be readily available for consultation in case of an emergency.

OSM dams are ranked in accordance with the Hazard classification followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service Technical Release (TR) No. 60 (2005).  The database also includes FEMA 333 hazard classification of High, Significant and Low hazard dams (impoundments). 

OSM is taking a proactive role in participating in DOI’s Working Group on Dam Safety and Security (WGDSS) to further delineate more precise language on detailing hazard classification criteria.  This will facilitate hazard classification characterization schemes within the bureaus.

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) in the form of emergency procedures are being created for all High and Significant Dams.  These plans are frequently reviewed to determine if any updates are necessary.  OSM encourages the use of FEMA 64 EAPs format.

The Dam Safety Work Group is also reviewing inspection criteria to standardize forms with the most up to date material to evaluate dams.  OSM inspectors certify via inspection reports that the impoundments are constructed or maintained in accordance with the approved plans.  The inspectors must review all documentation and inspect the impoundment to determine instability, structural weakness, depth and elevation of impounded matter, storage capacity, population and environmental impacts, and other significant criteria

In addition, to the joint regulatory roles with MSHA, OSM and MSHA hold annual meetings to review and improve processes.  OSM is an active participant in the WGDSS.  OSM Dam Safety representatives also keep abreast with industry standards through participation in conferences, meetings and work groups to maintain the highest standards within this program. 

OSM has recognized the importance of this program for providing a mechanism to improve risk reduction in the design, construction and maintenance of mining operation activities.  Management has and will continue to support the improvement in a proactive manner within the dam safety arena.

NEWS

Conference(s)

Information to be updated shortly.

Training

Information to be updated shortly.

ASDSO WEBINARS

Information to be updated shortly.

LINKS

Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO)
FEMA
Bureau of Reclamation (BOR):
Maryland Department of the Environment
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA Home page)
MSHA Regulations
National Inventory of Dams (NID)
Coal Impoundment Location & Information System (LIS)

TEAM MEMBERS

OSM Dam Safety Officer
Josh Rockwell
Appalachian Region Dam Safety Representative
Stefanie Self
Mid-Continent Region Dam Safety Representative
Stephen Partney
Western Region Dam Safety Representative
Matthew Hulbert
Knoxville Field Office Dam Safety Representative
George Gunn

EVENTS

Information to be updated shortly.

FAQs

What is the purpose of OSM’s Dam Safety Program?
Ensure that dams under OSM’s regulatory authority do not present unacceptable risks to public safety and property.

What is NID?
The National Inventory of Dams (NID) is a Congressionally authorized dam safety and management tool, which documents dams in the U.S. and its territories. The NID was reauthorized in Section 215 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-303). The NID includes dams that are at least 25 feet high, or impound at least 50 acre-feet of water at maximum pool level (as defined in law). The NID is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), the states and territories, and dam owning Federal Agencies.

How are dams classified?
Dam classification within OSM is ranked in accordance with the Hazard classification followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Technical Release No. 60.

What other regulations or guidance documents impact dam safety?
• FEMA 93: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety
• FEMA 333: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Hazard Potential Classification System for Dams
• FEMA 64: Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Emergency Action Planning for Dam Owners.
• Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-7
• Department of Interior, Departmental Manual Part 753: Dam Safety and Security Program.

What is an EAP and what is its purpose?
An EAP is an Emergency Action Plan. Although, OSM does not require EAPs as defined in FEMA 64, it recommends having it as an emergency procedure as defined in 816.49 (a) (13). In fact, all high and significant dams under OSM’s Federal oversight have EAPs.