Oregon bill to increase inspection of “high hazard potential” dams

House Bill 3427 requires owners or operators of dams with a “high hazard” rating to develop an emergency action plan, including determining the frequency for conducting emergency response exercises.

The bill also requires the Water Resources Department to conduct periodic inspection of dams with a high hazard rating.

A high hazard dam means that failure would likely cause fatalities, according to Racquel Rancier, senior policy coordinator with the Water Resources Department. In testimony before the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness, Rancier said the department has no position on the bill at this time.

She said the department has regulatory oversight for the design, construction, inspection and safety of dams that are at least 10 feet high and store at least 3 million gallons of water, of which there are more than 900. Rancier also said the department seeks to inspect high-hazard dams annually and requires EAPs for new dams and strongly encourages owners of existing dams to complete EAPs. Oregon has 75 non-federally-regulated dams rated as high hazard, and 58 of those have EAPs, she says.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Rick Lewis (R) and first read on April 3. A public hearing and work session was held today.

For more regulatory news, click here.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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