Industry Trends

A Dam Blog About Compliance and Reducing Your Dam Fee

Written by: Julie Lawson, P.E., C.F.M., Project Manager

We can’t help you save 15% on your insurance, but we can help you save 10% on your annual dam fee! There are over 5,000 dams in Ohio, and about 2,550 are in The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Dam Safety Program jurisdiction. You can find a dam using ODNR’s interactive dam locator.

Ohio Dam Locator Map
ODNR Dam Locator Map
Source: https://gis.ohiodnr.gov/MapViewer/?config=ohiodams

If you own a dam, you are responsible for ensuring that the dam is maintained and operated in such a way that it does not create a hazard to life, health or property. This is done by taking precautionary measures, such as periodic inspection, maintenance and monitoring and performing needed repairs to maintain the safe condition of the dam. But, did you know that you could save 10% on your annual dam fee?

Responsible Dame Ownership
Source: https://damsafety.org/dam-owners

There are documents required by ODNR to ensure compliance with precautionary measures. According to Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 1501:21-21-04, “The owner of a dam or levee shall prepare a written manual detailing the operation, maintenance, and inspection procedures necessary for the continued safe operation and use of the dam or levee, and an emergency action plan.” OAC 1501:21-15-06 details the operation, maintenance and inspection manual (OMI) and OAC 1501:21-15-07 details the emergency action plan (EAP). You can quickly see if you have an approved OMI and EAP by looking at your latest dam safety inspection report performed by ODNR. On the bottom of the dam inventory sheet within the report, it is indicated if there is an approved EAP and OMI.

EAP requirements differ depending on what class dam you own. For class I dams, an inundation study, EAP and inundation maps are required. For class III dams, fillable EAP forms are available. You must discuss which method to use if you own a class II dam. Inundation mapping shows limits of expected flooding in the event of a dam breach, whether during wet or dry weather. This can help communities best plan for evacuations and emergency responses, as roads may become impassable should a dam breach occur. For dams not requiring inundation mapping, the EAP is still a valuable planning tool to respond to a dam breach in an efficient way to maintain public safety.

Dam Breach Inundation Area
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CcVSVhAYvA

As an incentive for dam owners to have the required documents approved by ODNR, there is a compliant dam discount outlined in OAC 1501:21-24-02. Just for having the EAP and OMI required, a dam owner can receive 10 percent off their annual fee! There is an initial investment in creating your EAP and OMI, but they can be kept up to date with less effort. Each year that the documents are updated and submitted to ODNR by June 13, the dam owner receives the discount.

Owning a dam is a big responsibility and regulations can be overlooked if a dam owner hasn’t had problems in the past. However, it is the right thing to do for the safety of your community to plan for emergencies. Should an unforeseen event occur, having these documents in place will allow you to be as responsive as possible. The discount is an incentive to do so.

Environmental Design Group has experience with helping clients prepare EAPs and OMIs for small or large dams. If you have questions or would like help becoming compliant with these requirements, please reach out to us for assistance.