Dam Safety Facts and Figures

Published March 3, 2021

In 2019, USACE flood risk management projects prevented $348 billion of damages and, from 2010-2019, they prevented an average of $138 billion in damages annually.  USACE flood damage reduction projects avoid $12.00 of damages for each $1.00 invested.

Approximately 97 percent of the dams managed by USACE are more than 30 years old, and 70 percent have reached or exceeded the 50-year service lives for which they were designed.

  • Funding for Dam Safety Projects:  dam safety projects executed by USACE are cost shared with a local sponsor and vary based on original authorization.  The construction is fully funded by the U.S. Government up front and billed back to the cost shared sponsor over a set time period of years following construction completion.
  • Dams with highest life safety risk receive 100% of what can be efficiently expended in the program year, taking into account both budgeted funds and carryover balances.  This includes dams that are currently under study (haven’t reached final budget requirement decision) but have fully-funded interim risk reduction measures in place during the ongoing budgetary process.
  • In fiscal year 2020, the construction budget for modification to existing dams was approximately $363 million and budget for the routine dam safety program activities was over $50 million.  In addition, approximately $36 million was budgeted in fiscal year 2020 for further study, assessment, and design of modifications to existing USACE dams with the highest life safety risk.
  • Dam Safety portfolio averages approximately 60 years old.
  • To fix all dams that need repairs would take approximately $20 billion and 50 years with the current funding stream.

EXAMPLE:  Lewisville Lake Dam (Texas) has experienced seepage beneath the dam through the sand foundation, slides in reservoir side of the earthen embankment and stability of the concrete spillway is a concern at higher reservoir elevations.  Construction has started on seepage control and relief systems and downstream soil berms to address the seepage beneath the dam.  Future construction will include measures to stabilize the embankment against future slides and to anchor the concrete spillway weir.

EXAMPLE:  Wolf Creek Dam (Kentucky) impounds the second largest reservoir east of the Mississippi River, 12th largest in U.S., was among our highest risk dams and was in an active state of failure.  A barrier wall in the foundation was completed at a cost of approximately $600 million and included enough concrete to fill 89 Olympic-size swimming pools. (290,000 cubic yards).  This dam has returned to full service.

Daniel (Wade) Anderson
(918) 857-2842