May 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Over 2,200 dams are in poor condition, AP analysis finds

The Colorado River below Hoover Dam.

The Colorado River below Hoover Dam. Photo: George Rose, Getty Images

More than 2,200 dams across the United States are in poor condition and pose danger to communities, according to a new analysis from the Associated Press.

Why it matters: The amount of damaged and endangered dams has been on the rise, the analysis found. A similar AP review back in 2019 found roughly 1,600 dams were at potential risk.

Details: The new analysis outlines a number of reasons for the increased damage.

  • Climate change has put a greater strain on dams, specifically due to rainstorms.
  • There are now homes, businesses and roads below dams that were once constructed in remote locations.
  • Maintenance on troubled dams has been put off.

What they're saying: “All of a sudden, you’ve got older dams with a lower design criteria that now can potentially cause loss of life if they fail,” Del Shannon, president of the U.S. Society on Dams, told AP.

  • “The number of deficient, high-hazard dams is increasing,” he said.

The big picture: There is a growing push by lawmakers to make dams safer, Axios' Jason Clayworth writes.

Yes, but: This might not fix everything. According to a report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, U.S. dams are in need of almost $94 billion in upgrades over the next decade.

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