Owners of private dams are responsible for maintaining their dam and ensuring it follows state regulations. The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) are responsible for the state regulations, which can be found in 4 VAC 50-20. This law requires private dam owners to:
- Classify your dam based on the Virginia DCR’s Dam Safety Classification standards
- Upgrade spillway capacity if necessary, depending on Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) evaluation, which estimates the greatest amount of precipitation a storm area may experience at a certain time of year
- Prepare and submit Dam Break Inundation Zone Maps
- Ensure regular documented inspections
- Prepare and test Emergency Action Plans
Hazard Potential Classification of Dams
According to DCR, dams are classified with “hazard potential” based on the downstream losses anticipated in the event of failure. A dam with high hazard potential would cause probable loss of life or serious economic damage upon failure. A dam with significant hazard potential might cause loss of life or appreciable economic damage upon failure. A dam with low hazard potential would lead to no expected loss of life or economic damage upon failure.
Virginia Dam Safety Inventory System (DSIS)
The DSIS application is intended to provide information about all dams in Virginia that DCR tracks. You can use DSIS to view information related to dams and depending on the level of access granted, you can edit, download, and upload information and apply for key regulatory documents. Dam owners should use DSIS to apply for and submit certificates, permits, emergency plans, and inspections.
Resources for Dam Owners
Private dam owners are responsible for maintaining their dam and being aware of regulations. The County cannot manage privately-owned dams. There are several resources you can use to learn more about dam safety, regulations, permitting, and more, including the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and DCR.