Alabama remains only state without safety program for dams
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama is the only state in the country without a safety program for dams.
“The report card does identify areas that need improvement,” said Joe Meads with the Alabama Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“Unfortunately, most dams in Alabama are out of sight and out of mind,” the report reads. It also explains the state lacks an “institutional office” to lead inspections and educate communities.
Alabama Power operates 14 dams in the state, like the one at Lake Martin. A supervisor who works with the group explained a statewide dam safety program has had some growing interest over the years, but it wouldn’t really affect the company.
“Because Alabama Power is regulated through a federal agency, a state dam safety program likely wouldn’t have an impact on how we do our business,” said Richard Mickwee, dam safety and surveillance supervisor for Southern Co.
A state program would affect dams that are not currently being regulated, perhaps those that pose a greater risk. That is why Alabama Power said it follows federal regulations.
“We’re in the prevention business, preventing any problems that we see, small problems turning into big problems,” Mickwee said.
The American Society of Civil Engineers explains a statewide safety program is years away.
The public can also take some steps to stay safe around dams. Those boating within 800 feet below a dam should wear a life jacket.
Alabamians who live near a dam should also keep their plants properly trimmed to prevent any complications.
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