D is for Dams But the D is the Engineer Infrastructure Rating

Michigan just had two dams collapse. Michigan has a D+ infrastructure rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Michigan has a C- for its dams.

Michigan’s approximately 2,600 dams support water supply, irrigation, hydropower, and in some cases, recreation. There are 140 high hazard potential dams in the state. Hazard potential is not an indication of the dam’s condition, but an indication for the potential for loss of life and property damage if the dam were to fail.

According to the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report, $225 million is needed in additional state funding over the next 20 years to manage the aging dams in Michigan.

The 2017 Infrastructure Report Card reveals that the USA made some incremental progress toward restoring our nation’s infrastructure. But it was not been enough. As in 2013, America’s cumulative GPA is once again a D+.

The average age of the 90,580 dams in America is 56 years. As our population grows and development continues, the overall number of high-hazard potential dams is increasing, with the number climbing to nearly 15,500 in 2016. Due to the lack of investment, the number of deficient high-hazard potential dams has also climbed to an estimated 2,170 or more. It is estimated that it will require an investment of nearly $45 billion to repair aging, yet critical, high-hazard potential dams.

SOURCES – Infrastructure Report Card
Written By Brian Wang,

10 thoughts on “D is for Dams But the D is the Engineer Infrastructure Rating”

  1. And many of this dams can be built electrified….

    The report also found that adding power to these NPDs has the potential to increase new renewable capacity within the United States up to 12,000 megawatts. This would increase hydropower production by a hefty 15%.
    The report suggests that even if 100 NPDs with the most power production potential were converted, this would increase new reliable power by 8 gigawatts.


  2. Since these aren’t exactly made to be 100+ year dams, how does that nominally work out, in terms of enhancement/repair or replacement? How does one replace an active high hazard dam?

  3. Over 38% of those are for recreation purposes. If my tax money is being spent, hundreds of millions, so someone with a $40k boat has a place to launch from then I say let the dam dam fall apart.

  4. dams support water supply, irrigation, hydropower, and in some cases, recreation. 

    Nuclear power only substitutes for one of those.

  5. D is for massive incompetence, manipulation of facts in favor of the interests of politicians and companies who benefit from this agreements

  6. It would be nice if we tore down most of the dams and replaced them with (preferably) NuScale nuclear power plants or other Gen III power plants. If we could do it at a comparable electricity generation cost, that would be great IMO. If we can get our eastern rivers back to salmon production I would call it a solid win. Of course I like to go fishing on the weekend so I do have an ulterior motive!
    I guess we would need better regulations and plans for dealing with nuclear waste though for that to happen. 🙁

  7. Leadership 101
    It will always be cheaper to do nothing. It’s usually a good bet that a catastrophic failure will probably not happen on your watch.

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