The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has made updating the state’s dams safety standards a priority in recent years. This has led to the Ohio Dam Safety Program (ODSP), a program of both legislation and local regulatory practices that seeks to improve general dam safety and upkeep within the state of Ohio.
Within the next few years, capital projects will replenish existing dams within Ohio and bring them in line with current safety standards. For potential developers and builders, it is important to know what portions of the ODSP will affect you. Over 350 inspections will be conducted by the ODNR before the end of the 5-year ODSP.
Dams play an important role in the local economy and surrounding ecosystem. Dams can provide water critical for drinking or manufacturing, provide a level of protection against floods, and create recreational sites for local residents.
When not properly maintained, dams also have the potential to ruin property and cause great loss of life. More than 8,000 people have died in accidents related to dam failures in the last century. The Ohio Dam Safety Program represents an effort to avoid preventable disasters in the future.
Laws Related to Dam Safety
In Ohio, the owner of a dam is responsible for the upkeep of the dam in a way that does not put the public or property at risk. The Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code both have laws that further regulate the permits, annual fees, inspections, size, and location that guide dam owners.
Some notable laws that potential dam builders should be aware of are Ohio Revised Code 1521.063, which classifies dams as class I, II, or III, and regulates the annual fees applied to each classification, and Ohio Administrative Code 1501:21-21-01, which lays out the rights of the chief to do periodic inspections to make sure dams are in-line with current safety standards.
If you are interested in building a dam in your area, contact the C.W. Courtney Company for help navigating your local dam safety regulations and making sure your dam is safe and functional. Learning about the Ohio Dam Safety Program is a great way to prioritize public safety with your project.