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Owners Dam Safety Program (ODSP)


The Owners Dam Safety Program (ODSP) is the most important factor in maintaining safe dams and preventing dam failures. Dams with owners who do not have an effective ODSP represent a higher risk. The owner's dam safety program has been cited as a contributing factor in many dam failures including: the 1976 failure of Teton Dam, the 1986 failure of Upriver Dam, the 2003 failure of Silver Lake Dam, and the 2005 failure of Taum Sauk Dam

Recognizing the lessons learned from the Taum Sauk failure, we developed, and provided to owners, an Owner’s Dam Safety Self-Assessment Evaluation form designed to assist dam safety owners in judging the effectiveness of their programs. The form is comprised of questions related to the basic principles of a good dam safety program;

  • Acknowledgment of Dam Safety Responsibilities;
  • Communication;
  • Clear Designation of Responsibility;
  • Allocation of Resources to Dam Safety; and
  • Learning Organization


A dam safety program that is well documented, reviewed annually, and up-to-date sends a message, to all affected parties up to the highest level of authority both within and outside an owner’s organization, that dam safety is important. Recognizing that each organization is unique, an ODSP should be specifically tailored to the particular situation considering the portfolio of dams, dam types, and the associated life safety and financial risks.

To assure that we, the dam safety community, are doing everything ahead of time that can reasonably be done to avoid dam failures, provided below is a link to an outline with a discussion of a well-documented owner’s dam safety program. The outline is for the management component of the ODSP. Additional supporting documents of the ODSP such as the potential failure mode analysis, dam safety surveillance monitoring program, independent consultant safety inspection report etc, should be referenced in this document.

    The Owners Dam safety Program described in the agreement above is appropriate for Ameren but not necessarily for other owners. It is only provided as an example.

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Updated: January 10, 2014