If it is enacted, the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2004 (HR 5190) will also call for:

• the establishment of a programme within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for rehabilitation, repair work and dam removal;

• the enactment of a public fund to award grants to publicly-owned deficient dams.

The new bill was launched by Congresswoman Sue Kelly of New York and was immediately applauded by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).

In 2003, ASCE warned that the condition of many dams had deteriorated in the space of two years, while state dam safety programmes estimate that around 3000 US dams could fail during extreme flooding events or earthquakes.

ASDSO president Steve Verigin has called on other members of Congress to acknowledge the problem and to support the new legislation.