Responsibilities of Dam Owners
All dams should be operated and maintained in a safe manner. Under Indiana Code section 14-27-7.5-7, the owner of a structure shall maintain and keep the structure in the following state of repair and operating condition:
- under the exercise of prudence
- with due regard for life and property
- the application of sound and accepted technical principles
Failure to adhere to these standards may subject the owner to a notice of violation under Indiana Code section 14-27-7.5-11.
General Guidelines for New Dams & Improvements to Existing Dams in Indiana
This document contains many of the dam safety technical principles used throughout the country. The project engineer in charge of the design of a dam must be a professional engineer registered in Indiana and have the training and experience to properly apply these guidelines to the specifics of the site and the needs of the owner. If the owner's project engineer follows these guidelines and an appropriate engineering design package is submitted to Indiana DNR's Division of Water, the time to obtain approval on the proposed work will be significantly reduced.
Indiana Dam Safety Inspection Manual
Inspections of Dams
Any dam will be inspected according to the hazard classification assigned:
High Hazard Structures
- Must be inspected by a Licensed Professional Engineer registered in Indiana
- Conduct inspection at least once every two years and submit a report of the inspection in a form approved by the department to the Indiana DNR. The report must include at least the following information:
- An evaluation of the structure's condition, spillway capacity, operational adequacy, and structural integrity.
- A determination of whether deficiencies exist that could lead to the failure of the structure, and recommendations for maintenance, repairs, and alterations to the structure to eliminate deficiencies, including a recommended schedule for necessary upgrades to the structure.
- If after an inspection the licensed professional engineer who conducted the inspection determines that maintenance, repairs, or alterations to a high hazard structure are necessary to remedy deficiencies in the structure, the owner shall perform the recommended maintenance, repairs, or alterations.
Significant Hazard Structures
- The Indiana DNR inspects at least one time every three years.
- Statutory inspection fee of $200.
Low Hazard Structures
- The Indiana DNR inspects at least one time every five years.
- Statutory inspection fee of $100.
- Part 2 - Dam management and Maintenance
- Part 3: Dam Safety Inspections
- Appendix C: Suggested Dam Inspection Report
Resources for Hoosier Dam Owners
- If the dam falls under Indiana DNR jurisdiction, a permit will be required to construct or modify the dam or its appurtenant structures. Please visit Technical Services for more information.
- The Indiana DNR Dam Management and Maintenance Manual provides a good resource for the maintenance, operation, and repair of dams. It contains information on vegetation requirements, animal burrows, ripraps, trash racks, access roads, etc.
- Planning for an emergency if there is a dam incident or failure? Use these resources:
- View Part 5: Dam Safety Fact Sheets
- Planning to construct, repair or inspect a dam? View How to Procure the Services of an Engineer from damsafety.org.
Other useful information
- ASDSO Dam Owner Liability Brochure
- National Inventory of Dams
- FEMA offers the Pocket Safety Guide for Dams and Impoundments. The document is a good resource for dam owners, inspectors, and other people as a quick reference when assessing dams and impoundments. It contains images and diagrams of common dam problems and lists of recommended actions.
- As part of its dam owner academy series, ASDSO has created a short, on-demand training video to help owners understand dams better. Over the next few years, ASDSO plans to expand the Dam Owner Academy with additional videos, training, and resources. For future videos, make sure to subscribe to ASDSO's YouTube Channel.
- Dam Security
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