US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District Website

District Projects

Dam Safety Program

Published Sept. 25, 2020
Coralville Dam outlet structure in Coralville, Iowa.

Coralville Dam outlet structure in Coralville, Iowa.

Rock Island District, Nationwide

Dam safety is the art and science of ensuring the integrity and viability of dams such that they do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property and the environment. It requires the collective application of engineering principles and experience and a philosophy of risk management that recognizes that a dam is a structure whose safe functioning is not explicitly determined by its original design and construction. It also includes all actions taken to routinely monitor, evaluate, identify or predict dam safety issues and consequences related to failure, and to document, publicize and reduce, eliminate or remediate any unacceptable risks. 

The purposes of a dam safety program are to protect life, property and the environment by ensuring that all dams are designed, constructed, operated and maintained safely and effectively. This is accomplished by routine inspections of projects, periodic assessments of risks of each project, emergency planning which includes exercises that involve stakeholders, agencies, local and state government and emergency responders, interim risk reduction measures, detailed technical evaluation of potential issues and monitoring of instrumentation.

“Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety” was first published in June 1979 with the most recent update in 2004. The purpose of these guidelines is to enhance national dam safety and to encourage high safety standards in the management procedures and technical activities of Federal agencies. The guidelines require the head of each Federal agency having responsibility for design, construction, operation and regulation of dams to establish a dam safety office (officer), which reports directly to the head of the agency. The Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (ICODS) was established in 1980 to promote and monitor Federal and State dam safety programs. The Corps of Engineers is the Department of Defense representative on ICODS.

The Rock Island District Dam Safety Program is administered and monitored by the District Dam Safety Committee, comprised of Division and Branch Chiefs including the Dam Safety Officer and Dam Safety Program Manager. The Rock Island District Dam Safety Program presides over 28 Corps and 8 Non-Corps structures. Dam failure hazard potential categories of the 28 federal locations are; 9 high, 18 significant, and 1 low. Of the 8 non-Federal locations, 5 are high and 3 are low hazard. The program is implemented by quarterly committee meetings to discuss and resolve issues. Meeting minutes are composed by the Dam Safety Program Manager, reviewed and approved by the Dam Safety Officer, and submitted to Division. The Rock Island District has no authority to modify, improve or enforce repairs on dams outside of the Federal Dam Safety Program.

SI - Special Interest
Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (ICODS), WRDA 1996, Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety published June 1979, Executive Order 12148

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost  N/A 
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  N/A 
Estimated Total Project Cost  N/A 
Allocations Prior to FY 2020  N/A 
FY 2020 Allocation $1,373,000 
FY 2020 Total Capability  $1,373,000 


Major Work Items Current Year
FY 2020: Periodic Inspections; Periodic Assessments; 
Interim and Annual Inspections; Dam Safety Instrumentation Operation and Maintenance; Emergency Action Plan Updates; and Dam Safety Tabletop Exercises