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Contact: Peter Soeth, (303) 445-3615

Safety of Dams

The Dam Safety Program continues to be one of Reclamation’s highest priorities. The program helps ensure the safety and reliability of Reclamation dams to protect the downstream public. Approximately 50 percent of Reclamation’s dams were built between 1900 and 1950, and approximately 90 percent of the dams were built before currently used, state-of-the-art design and construction practices. Reclamation evaluates dams and monitors performance to ensure that risks do not exceed current Reclamation public protection guidelines. Potential failure modes include seismic risk based on the potential for earthquakes, overtopping due to improved data on hydrologic events, and aging dams, which lack state-of-the-art structural reliability features. These risks place a great reliance on monitoring, examinations, and re-analyses as ongoing risk management activities to assure safe dam performance. A robust Dam Safety Program must be maintained to assure acceptable performance within Reclamation’s inventory of dams and related facilities.Reclamation will undertake corrective actions expeditiously when unreasonable public risk is identified. The Program requires dams to be examined by specialists every three years, with additional internal reviews performed annually. The FY 2015 budget request includes $82.9 million for the Dam Safety Program. Major efforts continue to focus on modifications at Folsom Dam in California.

Initiation of Safety of Dams Corrective Actions

Of the budget request of $82.9 million, $62 million includes modifications at the following locations.

These projects are planned to continue in FY 2015:

Projects currently planned to begin in FY 2015:

In addition, pre-construction activities will be underway at other dams where Reclamation has determined a need to reduce safety risks, including:

Safety Evaluation of Existing Dams

The FY 2015 budget requests $19.8 million for completing safety evaluations of existing dams, including performance monitoring, examinations, analyses, field data investigations, technical studies, and development activities.

Department of the Interior Dam Safety Program

As the lead agency for the Department of the Interior’s Dam Safety Program, the President’s FY 2015 budget request includes $1.1 million for Reclamation to provide guidance to other Interior bureaus for their Dam Safety Programs.

Replacement, Additions, and Extraordinary Maintenance (RAX)

The proposed budget also includes $62.6 million in appropriations for specific projects for Replacement, Additions and Extraordinary Maintenance (RAX) activities across Reclamation. This request is central to mission objectives of operating and maintaining projects to ensure delivery of water and power benefits. Reclamation’s RAX request is part of its overall Asset Management Strategy that relies on condition assessments, condition/performance metrics, technological research and deployment, and strategic collaboration to continue to improve the management of its assets and deal with its aging infrastructure challenges. This table represents only the FY 2015 request for discretionary appropriations. Additional RAX items are directly funded by revenues, customers, or other Federal agencies (e.g., Bonneville Power Administration).

Replacements, Additions and Extraordinary Maintenance Activities1
($ in thousands)

Region FY 2013 Final Op Plan w/ Seq (P.L. 113-6) FY 2014 Enacted FY 2015 President's Budget
Pacific Northwest $8,368 $9,700 $9,967
Mid-Pacific $20,471 $18,999 $18,903
Lower Colorado $23,279 $21,346 $25,401
Upper Colorado $1,102 0 0
Great Plains $8,392 $3,904 $8,375
  $61,522 $53,949 $62,646

1 Does not include $4.2 million congressional addition for Facilities OM&R in FY2014 which will be distributed by project later in the fiscal year using objective, performance-based criteria.