Dam Safety: The Critical Imperative

52 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2017

See all articles by Denis Binder

Denis Binder

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Date Written: February 16, 2017


A series of catastrophic dam failures gave rise to the National Dam Inspection Act of 1972. The failure of the Teton Dam in 1976 and the 1977 Kelly Barnes Dam in Toccoa, Georgia, killing 38 students, further fueled the need for comprehensive dam safety statutes and enforcement. Dams and their reservoirs serve a vital role in flood protection, hydroelectricity, recreation, and water supply for domestic use and agriculture. If not properly constructed or maintained, they run the risk of catastrophic collapses. The recent near failure of the emergency spillways at Oroville Dam reinforces the need to always heed the lessons of the earlier incidents, including hubris and overconfidence. This article, written from a legal perspective calling for legislative action, was prompted by the failure of the Teton Dam. The lessons are true today with Oroville Dam.

Keywords: Dam Safety, Dam failures, Teton Dam, Oroville Dam, Overconfidence

Suggested Citation

Binder, Denis, Dam Safety: The Critical Imperative (February 16, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2919069 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2919069

Denis Binder (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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