More than 80 dams around the state are in need of costly repairs

Jun 14, 2023, 7:30 PM | Updated: 7:42 pm

utah capitol...

(Adobe stock)

(Adobe stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 80 dams around the state are currently in need of repair. The problem, however, is the repairs will cost more than $400 million.

Currently, there are roughly 6,500 dams around the state. Of those dams, 81 are considered to be high hazard. High hazard means the failure of the dam would result in the loss of life. 

Matt Call, a safety engineer for the Utah Division of Water Rights, says dams and their ability to function properly are important to Utah’s water supply. 

“Our water comes in the form of snow and through the winter it builds up, is stored in the mountains and then as that runs off we need to store that to continue to use it throughout the remainder of the year just because of Utah being the second-driest state in the nation.”

The cost to fix dams around the state

The state engineer’s office reports that it will take $450 million to repair the high-hazard dams around the state.

Additionally, the Division of Water Rights says, based on current funding, it will take 120 years to repair every high hazard dam in the state, and that’s if development near the moderate hazard dams comes to a stop. 

“A lot of those dams age out,” Call said. “They get very old. They don’t meet the minimum standards of what we consider of being a safe dam, currently.”

Teresa Wilmensen, state engineer and director for the Division of Water Rights, told a subcommittee that a failure of a dam could have disastrous results.

“Down at the end of the spillway for Joe’s Valley and at that point to the point of Orangeville,” she said. “Thirty-minute response time, if that dam fails.”

The subcommittee calls the number of dams that need to be repaired to be sobering.

Call says knowledge and methods of building dams only improve over time. He says the best way to ensure everyone’s safety is to do the costly upgrades. 

Mark Jones contributed to this article.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Science + Technology

Image of Lego heads. Lego will keep looking for a sustainable replacement for plastic after their e...

AN M. OLSEN Associated Press

Lego recycled plastic attempt fails, but toymaker will keep trying

Lego is dropping experiment with recycled plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate after testing "found the material didn't reduce carbon emissions."

1 day ago

nasa team grabs asteroid sample from utah base...

Adam Small

NASA asteroid sample preparing to leave Utah

The asteroid sample that landed in Utah on Sunday will be divided among scientists across the world for generations of research.

2 days ago

What does it mean to be human? For a long time, the answer seemed clear. Our species, Homo sapiens ...


Science paints a new picture of the ancient past, when we mixed and mated with other kinds of humans

The science of human evolution has made big leaps in recent years, and it’s painting a new picture of our origins.

3 days ago

(CNN) — Seven years after launching to space, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft flew by Earth Sunday to ...

Ashley Strickland, CNN

A long-awaited asteroid sample has landed in the US

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft delivered a sample collected from the asteroid Bennu to Earth Sunday.

3 days ago

(Photo Stone Johnson) Follow @amandadickson...

Amanda Dickson

STEMFest at Mountain America Expo Center

When you walk into the Mountain America Expo Center today, you’ll see STEMFest 2023.

8 days ago

Image of the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website. Story - a tech expert in Utah says distinguishing ...

Curt Gresseth

Artificial intelligence joins politics for 2024 presidential race. Can you spot the fake?

Artificial intelligence has joined the presidential campaign trail. As a voter, do you know how to spot the fake?

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

More than 80 dams around the state are in need of costly repairs