UTAH

FEMA to give Utah money to fix high-hazard dams

Jul 8, 2024, 4:00 PM

Construction crews work to repair the Sevier Bridge Dam....

A cofferdam blocks the spillway as construction repairs continue on the Sevier Bridge Dam at Yuba State Park on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that it will give Utah money to fix high-hazard dams. 

According to a press release, FEMA has allocated $185 million. Thirty-two states and one U.S. territory will receive portions of the money. 

Utah is expected to receive $7.2 million for repairs. 

“Aging dam infrastructure and the requirement to meet the minimum dam safety standards make this initial award a welcome sight,” said Candice Hasenyager, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. “Dam improvements are imperative to the safety of Utahns, and they are also costly. We are grateful for FEMA’s support.”

The Utah Division of Water Resources works with the Division of Water Rights to identify high-hazard dams. 

Infrastructure law intended to repair high-hazard dams

According to FEMA’s website, the funding comes through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program is one portion of the law. It funds the design, planning, construction, and repair of eligible dams, per FEMA’s website

According to Deanne Criswell, a FEMA administrator, dams play a crucial role in communities across the United States. Along with the crucial role dams play in creating hydroelectric power, they protect downstream communities and provide recreational activities, according to the National Hydropower Association.

FEMA’s website said a non-federally owned dam is eligible if it: 

  • is located in an area with a dam safety program, 
  • is classified as high-hazard potential, 
  • possesses a current and approved emergency plan, and
  • it does not meet minimum safety standards.

Earlier this year, FEMA said it gave an additional $26 million through the National Dam Safety State Assistance Grant Program. 

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FEMA to give Utah money to fix high-hazard dams