Bill could raise spending limit for Reclamation dam safety improvements

A bill introduced to the Senate this past week would adjust the spending cap on dam safety improvements for infrastructure managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Senate Bill 1946 — introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii — would amend the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978.

Previous revisions to the 1978 act currently sets the limit at US$1.4 billion in annual dam safety spending for close to 480 Reclamation-owned dams and dikes spread across 17 states.

With that money, 85% of most dam safety improvements are covered by the federal government, while the remaining tab is picked up by the operator.

Changes made by S.B. 1946, however, would allow for additional spending should dam safety projects require money than the operator might be able to contribute.

The bill has been passed to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for further consideration.

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