On 2 December 2002, US President Bush signed the Dam Safety and Security Act of 2002, now Public Law 107-310. The Act cleared the Senate by unanimous consent on 14 November 2002, and was passed in the House on 5 September by a vote of 401-2.
H.R. 4727, as introduced by Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) not only sought reauthorisation of the five-year-old National Dam Safety Program, but acknowledged the need for keeping dams safe from terrorist attacks, as well as from events that cause dam failures, including earthquakes, extreme storm events or lack of maintenance.
The new law includes dam security as a major issue that state dam safety programmes should now address in efforts to improve their programmes, and authorises US$34.4M for the National Dam Safety Program over four years:
• US$6M per year for grants to state dam safety programmes – which regulate 95% of dams in the US – and miscellaneous projects
• US$1.5M per year for dam safety research
• US$500,000 per year for training
• US$600,000 per year for the Federal Emergency Management Administration to administer the programme, which also includes technology transfer and coordination between state and federal agencies
‘As a state regulator, I truly appreciate the importance of this legislation,’ commented Doug Johnson, president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. ‘The benefits of dams are matched by their potential risk to the public. The assistance of the National Dam Safety Program helps state and federal regulators minimise this risk while ensuring that vital lifeline services provided by dams, such as hydro power and domestic and industrial water supply, are uninterrupted.’