Lawmakers Talk Potential Dam Regulation Changes

How to manage private dams, lawmakers discuss regulations.

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Nearly a year after the unprecedented rainfall in October 2015 that lead to historic levels of flooding, lawmakers met Thursday to discuss potential legislation related to dam regulation. 

The Department of Health and Environmental Control's David Wilson recommended changes be made to current law, including having dam owners complete maintenance checklists annually and have professional engineers come out to inspect dams. 

Wilson also suggested lawmakers revise regulatory size exemptions for small dams to include those that could pose a risk to property, in addition to those that pose a risk to loss of life. 

However, lawmakers like Rep. Russell Ott questioned whether new legislation needs to be passed to solve these problems, or simply an increase in funding for DHEC. 

"Is it a funding issue or is it a law issue, and I think that's what we are going to continue to study with these hearings," he said. "Changing a law doesn't always fix a problem."

Wilson said one of the biggest issues when deciding what to do with damaged dams has been cost.

He said deciding to breach a dam and empty the pond can cost $600 dollars versus repairing the dam altogether at the price tag of a million dollars.


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