National Dam Safety Awareness Day seeks to promote individual and community responsibility for dam safety. It also prompts communities to learn best practices in dam safety, as well as what steps can be taken to prevent catastrophic dam-related failures. The theme for National Dam Safety Awareness Day 2023 on May 31, is, “Dam Safety is a shared responsibility. Know your risk, know your role, know the benefits of dams and take action.”
Dams are a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure. They provide benefits to all Americans including bringing water, power, flood risk reduction, economic opportunities, and recreation to communities across the country. Although there are many benefits, there are also risk associated with them such as natural hazards, human-made threats, aging infrastructure, and more.
In Hawai'i, the State of Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Dam Safety Program regulates, inspects, and oversees approximately 126 dams that meet the criteria of a regulated dam. Visit http://dams.hawaii.gov to access the Hawai'i Dam Inventory System.
Property owners on Oʻahu can access the City and County of Honolulu’s “Dam Evacuation Planning Tool” to view dam evacuation zones. This dam evacuation planning tool is a planning resource to help you view the locations of some high risk dams and the planned evacuation areas.
Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31 every year is in memoriam of the 2,220 people who lost their lives in the 1889 South Fork Dam failure near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The collapse of the South Fork Dam was a tragedy and is not an isolated incident. Recent crises like the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway in California (2017) or the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Michigan (2020), have made major headlines, highlighting the poor condition of many of the nation’s dams. Proper maintenance, routine inspection, necessary upgrades, and implementation of an Emergency Action Plan can ensure optimal conditions, protecting public health, safety, and welfare.
FEMA has developed a number of new projects recently, including the publication of the agency’s first ever children’s coloring book. With the release of the “Dam Safety with Beaverly” children’s coloring book, children, or young students, learn more about dam safety.
FEMA has additional resources available to help you get involved:
- National Dam Safety Awareness Day – Local Event Planning Checklist
- National Dam Safety Awareness Day – Outreach Ideas for Children
Make a difference in your community and join FEMA in support of National Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31. For more information on Dam Safety, visit www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/risk-management/dam-safety/awareness-day/.