Legislative Advocacy

On this page:

Priority Legislative Issues and Goals

How Can You Participate in ASDSO's Advocacy Efforts

Latest News on Relevant Federal Legislation & Policy

ASDSO Testimony

Cost of Dam Rehab in the US


Priority Legislative Issues and Goals

ASDSO's Priority Legislative Issues

  • Increased appropriations for the National Dam Safety Program.
  • Program revisions and full appropriations for the National High-Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Act.
  • Increased appropriations to continue the success of the USDA Small Watershed Dam Rehabilitation Program.
  • Creation of a state dam safety regulatory program in Alabama (the one state remaining with no dam safety legislation on the books).
  • Support and appropriations for a National Levee Safety Program.

Federal Legislative Goals

  • Push for full funding of all federal laws that improve dam safety.
  • Coordinate an education and advocacy effort for all federal legislative initiatives including encouraging grass-roots lobbying.
  • Encourage alternative sources of funding for dam rehabilitation and repairs through federal/state partnerships or public/private partnerships.
  • Increase general dam safety awareness in Washington, D.C. to keep at the forefront the need for funding of the National Dam Safety Program and other federal programs.

State Legislative Goals

  • Increase network of support for states when dam safety programs are threatened.
  • Track all legislative changes and publish summaries. Provide benchmark data to states on dam safety policies.
  • Assist state dam safety agencies with legislative awareness to give them the tools/information needed when programs are threatened.
  • Encourage policies and provide tools at the state level to increase dam safety awareness.
  • Explore funding mechanisms for state dam safety programs and assist states in maintaining and increasing their budgets.


How Can You Participate in ASDSO's Advocacy Efforts

Find Your Legislator's Contact Info:
Senate Contacts
House of Representatives Contacts

Federal Advocacy
You can help support strong dam safety programs at the federal level by educating your Senators and Congressmen about the need for policies and resources that improve dam safety and, therefore, reduce the risks associated with dam failure.  ASDSO works with Congress, with key administrative staff and with other non-governmental organizations to improve legislation and regulations and to ensure that funding is appropriated for these programs. It is important that you stay informed and build our advocacy efforts. From time to time, we ask our members to contact your Congressional delegation to educate them about the need for strong dam safety programs at the federal level and to support specific legislation that will improve dam safety nationwide.

Watch this page for alerts and issue briefs or contact Lori Spragens at ASDSO to become a part of the Federal Legislative Advocacy Interest Group. lspragens@damsafety.org.

Federal Priority Issues:
Increased annual appropriations for the National Dam Safety Program. Administered by DHS, FEMA. Authorized currently at $13.9 million a year. 

Increased annual appropriations for the National Levee Safety Program. Administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers and DHS, FEMA. Authorized currently at $54 million a year.

Program refinements and annual appropriations for the National High-Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program. Administered by FEMA through the National Dam Safety Program. The 2016 law authorizes the program at $40 million for FY20 and $60 million for each year thereafter thru 2026.

State-Specific Advocacy
ASDSO works with the state programs and with local stakeholders in developing state-by-state advocacy coalitions. If you would like to start advocating for strong dam safety programs in your state contact Mark Ogden, 859-228-9732 x 107 or mogden@damsafety.org.

Partners Increase Support for Dam Safety
Partnering with other organizations allows for a stronger voice in Washington and in State Capitals. ASDSO current partnerships include:

The Uncommon Dialogue Coalition

American Society of Civil Engineers Government Relations 

National Watershed Coalition 

Interstate Conference on Water Policy 

Association of State Floodplain Managers

National Association of Flood and Stormwater Managers

Deep Foundations Institute

U.S. Society on Dams



Read More About Legislation & Policy

The National Dam Safety Act
Status - 2018: The National Dam Safety Program Act was reauthorized in 2018 thru the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, thru 2023.

Read the text of the National Dam Safety Act - (2018 version as it is viewed in context with the 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2014 language).

This modest yet vital program (app. $13 million total) enables the states to improve their dam safety programs, which translates into reduced risks to life and property. The NDSPA provides training; technical assistance; research funding; public awareness; and support to states through incentive grant awards that encourage states to improve their programs. No funds under this act may be used to repair any dams. The funds are targeted to support states and to advance the national effort to improve dam safety.

The National Dam Rehabilitation Program
Status - May 2018: The National Dam Rehabilitation Act was signed into law in late 2016 as Section 3004 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements to the Nation Act (WIIN 2016). Amendments were passed in 2020 to refine the program.

Read the text of the National Dam Rehabiltation Act

Levee Safety Legislation
Status - 2018: The National Levee Safety Initiative was reauthorized in 2018 thru the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, thru 2023.

2014 - The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) 2014 included language to start a "levee safety initiative."  

2007 - The National Levee Safety Program is promulgated within the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which was signed into law in November 2007.

The Watershed Dam Rehabilitation Program

Funding provides matching grants to watershed districts to rehabilitate their dams. For more information about this program go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WSRehab/.

The National Watershed Coalition (of which ASDSO is a member) and ASDSO advocate for full funding for the Small Watershed Programs.

Contact Dan Sebert at NWC for more information:
Dan A. Sebert, Ph.D., CEO-Executive Director, National Watershed Coalition, 1023 Manvel, Suite D, P.O. Box 556, Chandler, OK 74834, 405.627.0670, nwchdqtrs@sbcglobal.net; www.watershedcoalition.org

The National Inventory of Dams
The US Army Corps of Engineers administers the National Inventory of Dams (NID), a database of general information on US regulated dams. The Corps' authorized funding level for this program is $500,000 a year. Current administration funding levels are considerably lower than this.
Currently: ASDSO supports full funding for this program.

USGS Streamgage Program
This program is underfunded routinely within the Department of Interior, US Geological Survey's budget. ASDSO supports the continuation and adequate funding to maintain U.S. streamgages. 

Read more at:
USGS National Streamflow Information Program
Interstate Council on Water Policy


ASDSO Testimony

Recent testimony submitted to Congress or State Legislatures

Testimony before the Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Senate, March 1, 2017

Letter to the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee regarding a Hearing entitled “Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government.”

Statement on The Water Resources Development Act, United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, November 15, 2012

Statement on The Water Resources Development Act, United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, September 20, 2012

Statement before the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on The FY 2012 Budgets and Priorities of the Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service: Finding Ways To Do More with Less, March 8, 2011

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the Water Resources Development Act of 2010: Legislative and Policy Proposals to Benefit the Economy, Create Jobs, Protect Public Safety and Maintain America’s Water Resources Infrastructure, November 17, 2010

Testimony on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 before the United States Department of Agriculture before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, March 19, 2010.

Testimony to the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives on Appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency For the Fiscal Year 2011

Testimony before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the Recommendation of the National Committee on Levee Safety, May 19, 2009

Testimony for the Joint Hearing of Subcommittees on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management and Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, May 8, 2007

Testimony on the Current Dam Safety Needs in the United States before the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, & Emergency Management, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, July 26, 2006

Written Responses for the Record to the Hearing Conducted July 26, 2006 By the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management


Cost of Dam Rehab in the US

In 2001, an ASDSO task group was formed and tasked with preparing a report on the cost of rehabilitating our nation’s dams. In 2003 the committee issued a report entitled The Cost of Rehabilitating Our Nation’s Dams: A Methodology, Estimate and Proposed Funding Mechanisms. Based on the federal inventory of dams at the time and available cost data, the task group developed a methodology for estimating what funding would be needed to rehabilitate the nation’s non-federal dams.

Over time, improved data collection and reporting has resulted in an increase in the number of dams in the inventory. Using the same methodology but updating the logic diagrams to account for the changing inventory numbers, inflation and percentage factors of deferred maintenance vs. non-deferred maintenance, hazard classification change, and engineering assessment, the task group updated the costs in 2009, 2012, 2016, 2019 and 2022.

In 2022, with the inventory including more than 88,600 non-federal dams, the task group once again updated estimates of the cost of rehabilitating our nation’s dams. Current figures place the total cost estimated for non-federal dams at $75.69 billion, up from the last estimate of $65.89 billion. Non-federal, high-hazard potential dams are estimated at $20.42 billion, up from $24.04 billion. Read the Report

Since 2003, an ASDSO task group has tracked dam rehabilitation cost as follows:

Funding needs,
non-federal dams
Funding needs,
non-federal HH dams
$34 billion
$10.1 billion
$51.46 billion
$16 billion ($8.7b public, $7.3b private)
$53.69 billion
$18.2 billion ($11.2b public, $7b private)
$60.7 billion
$18.71 billion
$65.89 billion
$20.42 Billion
$75.69 billion
$24.04 Billion

Note: The ASDSO estimates are based on general assumptions about the types and numbers of repairs needed. Actual rehab costs available from dam owners supersede our estimates.

 [Return to Top]