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Dam Ownership & Maintenance

Any person or company that owns, operates, or maintains a dam is liable for some or all damages due to a failure of that dam even if an unsafe condition existed prior to a new dam owner’s term of ownership. Thus, the structural integrity of any dam should be determined prior to purchase.

Dam Inspections

High hazard potential dams must be inspected by a professional engineer every year, significant hazard dams must be inspected by a professional engineer every 3 years, and low hazard dams must be inspected every 5 years.

Technical inspections must be performed by professional engineers familiar with the design and construction of dams and should include assessments of structural safety. Maintenance inspections are performed more frequently than technical inspections in order to detect, at an early stage, any developments that may be detrimental to the dam. Downstream hazard verification inspections must also be performed to determine if there has been any construction downstream of the dam which could raise the dam’s hazard-potential classification. This has important implications for the dam owner as it could result in a change of how often the dam must be inspected and require structural modifications to the dam.

Free Low Hazard Dam Inspections

The OWRB offers free low hazard dam inspections that include an on-site inspection, full inspection report, breach inundation map, and education about inspection and maintenance techniques. Contact Emma Moradi at (405) 530-8800 or for more information.

Emergency Action Plans

High hazard dam owners must develop Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) tailored specifically to their dams. The EAP assigns critical roles, including surveillance, notification, and identification of the dam break flood zone, and identifies critical contacts. EAPs must be submitted to and approved by the OWRB and subsequently filed with local Civil Defense authorities. Emergency Action Plan Guidelines for High Hazard–Potential Dams and a fillable EAP form are available for dam owners.

Last Modified on Sep 06, 2023