2006-05-18 / News

Rep. Long's dam bill passes

There are about 500 dams in Rhode Island. While none reach the magnitude of the Grand Coulee, they are nonetheless vital to the protection of the public safety and private property.

Last week, the state House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Bruce J. Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) to authorize various state departments and agencies to co-operate in taking action to mitigate unsafe conditions and to develop emergency action plans for any high hazard dams in the state.

The bill passed by the House would authorize the state Department of Environmental Management, in co-operation with the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, to carry out measures to mitigate unsafe conditions of dams and to assess costs against the owner of the dam.

The act would also require the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency to develop emergency action plans by July 1, 2008 for all significant or high hazard dams in the state. The emergency action plans would have to be updated on an annual basis.

"The many dams in Rhode Island - big, small, man-made or otherwise - provide important value to local communities and the state, not just in regard to protection of public safety and private property, but also for protection of drinking water supplies, recreational opportunities, the conservation of fish and wildlife, and the preservation and enhancement of scenic beauty," said Rep. Long.

"In order to protect the value that dams provide, and to mitigate any risks posed by dams, they must be properly operated, maintained, repaired and/or removed, and there needs to be an agency or department that is ultimately responsible," Long said. "This legislation lays out that responsibility and gives these agencies and departments the important and necessary duty of working with the League of Cities and Towns and the individual municipalities to keep or make these dams safe."

The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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