Army Civil Works announces publication of a proposed rule for establishment of a federal credit program for non-federal dam safety

By Jay ShannonMay 31, 2022

WASHINGTON – The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works announced the signing of a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish a federal credit program administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for maintaining, upgrading and repairing dams, including dam removal, identified in the National Inventory of Dams as being owned by non-federal entities.

The Corps’ long-term, low-cost federal credit program is authorized by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. The act established a federal credit program to be administered by the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects. The Corps’ WIFIA Program will enable local investment in dam-safety infrastructure projects for creditworthy borrowers and was provided $75 million in funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Non-federal dams account for roughly 87,000 of the more than 90,000 dams, as reported in the Corps’ National Inventory of Dams. Over 15,000 non-federal dams are now classified as “high hazard potential,” meaning their failure or mis-operation will probably cause loss of human life. The hazard potential classification does not reflect in any way on the current condition of the dam (e.g., safety, structural integrity, flood routing capacity). In addition, the average age of dams in the National Inventory of Dams is more than 60-years old. While this is not a reflection on hazard potential, the high average age means that the majority of dams were not built to current standards.

“On National Dam Safety Awareness Day, the Corps’ Civil Works program is taking a big step to enable dam safety that contributes to community resilience to flooding and improvement in environmental quality through their proposed rule to establish a credit assistance program for non-federal dam safety projects,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor. “The administration has made investment in our nation’s infrastructure a priority, and the Corps’ Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or WIFIA Program, will further this commitment. With over 15,000 dams classified as having high-hazard potential, this program is critically important to provide improved public safety, reduce risk to vulnerable communities, and enhance climate resiliency to bring our aging infrastructure into the future.”

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register to gather written comments over a 60-day comment period commencing upon publication. A pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice can be found at WIFIA NPRM Pre_Publication Version.pdf [PDF - 491.5 KB].