When The Dam Cracks: "There Are 80,000 US Dams, With An Average Age Of 52"

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Stratfor,

In his joint address to Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump touted a $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan as a means to stimulate the economy while constructing, if not rebuilding outright, crucial projects around the country. Trump later met with U.S. business leaders on March 8 seeking support from the private sector for the plan. It is key to implementing the administration's infrastructure goals, primarily as a way to keep costs revenue neutral, so the federal government does not have to increase spending. Specifically, some locks and dams are on the president's priority list. A handful of projects, however, is only a drop in the bucket of aging, in some cases cracking, U.S. water systems.

Officials have been asked to identify new and existing projects that need to be completed in general. The National Governors Association has already presented a list of more than 400 "shovel ready" projects. While details remain scarce, it appears the strategy is to have the private sector fund the majority of any planned projects, using federal funds only when necessary. But relying on the private sector will inevitably skew the infrastructure initiative toward projects that have a better potential for financial returns, such as ports, airports and toll roads.

Meanwhile, there are more than 80,000 dams in the United States, with an average age of 52 years.

The suburban sprawl and growing populations have also put more people downstream of dams that once only served agricultural land, increasing the risk to human life should one fail. California, Colorado, the Northeast and the Rust Belt are just some of the areas where the most high-risk dams and the oldest dams overlap. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that more than 4,000 of these dams are in need of repairs, costing an estimated $21 billion. With the Trump administration set on having the private sector lead construction efforts, there likely won't be the same interest, if any, in investing in many of these types of projects, making it more difficult to fund dam and other water infrastructure.

All of this is happening just a month after a near collapse of the Oroville Dam in northern California. Heavy rains throughout the winter have taken much of the state out of severe drought, but have also stretched some reservoirs to capacity. At the Oroville Dam, failure of the main spillway required the use of an emergency earthen spillway, which quickly began eroding.

While disaster was avoided this time, it illustrates the urgent need for investment in the nation's dilapidated water systems — an area where interest from private investors can be hard to come by.

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Erek's picture

Well, damn.

Crack a dam, or dam a crack.

Maybe I'll put my finger in a dyke.

38BWD22's picture



Lake Okeechobee (S FL) might be a BIG disaster should it fail.



LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) 38BWD22 Mar 18, 2017 1:58 PM

"Meanwhile, there are more than 80,000 dams in the United States, with an average age of 52 years."

Fear mongering "article."  One might think that Algore and Hillary wrote it.

First, DIRT DOES NOT GET OLD AND CRACK/DECAY.  Yes, dirt, without organic material in it (what is used for construction), does not decompose or degrade in thousands of years.  Most dams in the U.S. are large dirt piles with vegetation on the down stream side.  They'll last forever.  Simple, cheap, maintenance to stop dirt from being washed away (eroded) is all that's required.  Very few dams are built of degradable material.


Joe Trader's picture

For those who are interested - the badly damaged Oroville Dam spillway was turned back on yesterday.

I recommend this guy's channel for a very intelligent view, that doesn't contain any CNN-like tin-foil hat speculation. His day job's a long-haul cargo pilot - but he could have fooled me if he said he was an engineer


DaddyO's picture

Agree, I've been watching Juan Brown since he first posted on the Oroville situation.

No hype, just common sense reporting from a concerned, knowledgeable citizen.

What a novel idea...

Anyway, Juan has done a yeoman's job of giving a thoughtful report on a potentially catastrophic situation.


Midas's picture

I actually find Juan depressing because he demonstrates an unpleasant fact.  It's not his fault, but he is an amateur and makes all the high-budget "professionals" look like high school reporters. 

hope_talk's picture
hope_talk (not verified) Midas Mar 19, 2017 5:58 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

Krungle's picture

You literally don't understand anything about chemistry or geology or physics or engineering. 

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) Krungle Mar 18, 2017 2:33 PM

Yes, my Bachelor's and Master's in engineering have taught me nothing about engineering.  I should learn from you, the "smart" one, and run in circles with my hands over my head screaming. 


Logan 5's picture

Yeah but ~ you forgot to factor in 'global warming' & whether or not Chachi actually loves Joni in return...

Zorba's idea's picture

Bold comments on either side of Risk concerns regarding man made dams and the force of nature should be accompanied by some facts. The 2013 Progress Report on National Dam Safety by the Dept of Homeland Security, reported the National Inventory of Dams (NID) which is maintained by the US Army Corp of Engineers listed 87,359 dams in the US. Of those, 17% (14,726) were classified as high hazard potential and 14% (12,406) as significant hazard potential. I would be willing to bet that those citizens living in proximity to these dams don't give a damn about inflated engineers making unsubstatntiated proclamations. The inexcusable gross neglect of our country's infrastructure has caused tragic loss of lives and likely will get worse. Sandbagging this reality is utter nonsense!


swmnguy's picture

We don't have a Trillion Dollars to spend over the next decade to fix all these potential catastrophes.  Instead, we're going to keep spending $1 Trillion every god-damn year on the War Machine, to keep the US Dollar tied to Petroleum, and protect the American Way Of Banking!

Zorba's idea's picture

...and pumping the Blue Cities with loads of subsidized illegal immigrants for the Purple Queen

onthesquare's picture

LowerSlowerDela...  If you don't mind me asking; Are you by chance an soils engineer?  If not then what type of engineer are you?

Chris Dakota's picture

Liberals like Jerry Brown want all the dams to fail. They are dead set on re-wilding the rivers.

Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) Chris Dakota Mar 18, 2017 3:25 PM

If it keeps on raining [or snowing], the levee's gonna break...



Jubal Early's picture

I used to like that song until I learned that there were 3 different Robert Plants including his brother.  Zeppelin was part MKultra like all the others.  I hope they don't get money from youtube because they should all be in prison.  All those rock "stars" who were working for the CIA.

BTW, after disappearing from the wayback machine Dave McGowans (wierd scenes in the canyon) site has been brought back on line by his children.  This is great news:


BeansMcGreens's picture

Same Dave McGowans's writings on Laurel Canyon here on pdf file, with pictures. Quite a read, but really interesting what with Podesta and pizzagate, towards the end. Black Dahlia photos are like the statue in Podesta's house, sign of saturn, and Aleister Crowley.


edit: Forgot to add site


True Blue's picture

Read the seminal work 'The Johnstown Flood' by David C. McCullough. Spillways, drainpipes etc. must be maintained and occasionally replaced, seepage must be monitored, debris kept clear from spillways and silt from outlet pipes. More people died more horrifically in Johnstown alone than on the Titanic -in their own homes and all because of several maintainance failures and the installation of a metal grill over the spillway to keep fish in that instead collected a mass of debris washed down by a few days of heavy rain.

The dam at Castlewood Canyon was undercut in 1933 and wiped out most of Denver. It had been built on soil no modern engineer would touch -these two make how many others a legitimate concern? It is somewhat fear-mongery, but normalcy bias tends to have a way of biting people in the ass.


junction's picture

The biggest "shovel ready" project would be shoveling out the enormous piles of crap in Congress, the Executive Branch and the Courts.  Even Hercules would not be up to this task, much greater than cleaning out the Augean stables.

Koba the Dread's picture

Yeah, if the thousand-foot-high Lake Okeechobee dam bursts you can say goodbye to south Florida.

TAALR Swift's picture

When it breaks, it's Eau Reservoir, baby.

Barney Fife's picture

Hell hath no fury like a woman's girlfriend scorned. I wouldn't if I were you. 

twa_14's picture

Rachel Madcow is available!!

swamp's picture

Yeah because Barry and boys stole all the money and left crumbling infastructure and deported jobs.

Obama's British connections add up.

1). Obama used British GCHQ to circumvent normal channels and as you know GCHQ has full access to NSA for electronic monitoring.
(Judge Napolitano about 4:25 minutes in)



2). Obama's drug boat vessel named Lady Michelle, with 4.2 tons of fast and furious Sinaloa Columbian cocaine was busted March 14-16, 2017 in Caribbean area International waters but his boat was registered to the $400 million dollar new airport on the tiny island of St. Vincent -- owned by the British.


Unbeknownst to Obama, who was in the Virgin islands when Lady Michelle was due in port tried unsuccessfully to call a man named Mohamed Nazim Hoseain.
However, Muslim Brotherhood Mr. Hozeain was unavailable because the boat he was navigating, Lady Michelle, was dead in the water due to a Coast Guard shut down and drug seizure.

After O learned of this, he flew to NYC to see his lawyers, then onto seek favors from Warren Buffet who 45+1 member who could not help due to his condition at age 86. Mr. O then proceeded to Titan tech territory for unknown reasons and then onto Hawaii to influence THAT judge the onto French Polynesia where extradition is not possible and it is a far away from the inquiring FBI

junction's picture

Great link to story about the "Lady Michelle" boat with 4 tons of cocaine on it.

Arnold's picture

..she don't lie..
..she don't lie..
..she don't lie..



Zorba's idea's picture

Well, it appears drug running has been a prerequisite for the muppets the CIA keeps selecting to perform in the WH. A virtual Scarface reality. What a fucking swamp of criminals

Deplorable's picture

Don't worry, Trump will rebuild our infrastructure just like Hoover did in the 30's with his public works projects.

It will be good news for all the newly unemployed Silicon Vally tech workers that will loose their jobs in the next year.

Put them back to work with a pick and shovel.


Alananda's picture

"Loose" indeed! Good catch. My personal rhetorical "pet peeve". A writer on occasion, I hold the belief that MS Word and other auto-spell checkers systematically change "lose" to "loose". Surely commenters on ZH could not have so regressed!! Facebook denizens, of course!

Folks, if you find you cannot distinguish "lose" from "loose" -- loose you be with language! -- then how about LOOZE, as in BOOZE? (BOSE retains its trademark name, I understand.) And as your psychological and financial wounds OOZE, and you eventually lose blood and white cells in your desperate FLIGHT from the FIGHT for your FREEDOM, you will loose into the wild your genome, scatter your blue genes (especially!), color the world BLOOD RED instead of A21's (now 2030's) GREEN, the new "red" of the 21st Century.

Having read the UN A21 tome -- denser, more meaningless prose I had not encountered since I wrote technical reports fresh from earning the Ph.D. -- I can assure you will LOSE when the bastards finally take the (former republic) USoA down, once and for all. Then, go be foot loose and fancy free!

A. Boaty's picture

Do you mean a new WPA? With this Congress? Yeah, ok, whatever.

swmnguy's picture

The problem with a new WPA is, quite simply, that it would benefit the nation.  All benefits are to be privatized, not distributed. All costs are to be socialized.  That's the ongoing American Way.

What's the point of being cronies or handmaidens to oligarchy if you have to leave even a crumb on the table?

rejected's picture

Sorry boys and girls. We need all the money we can get for our military and its industry that make the tools of war keeping Americans employed.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) rejected Mar 18, 2017 1:53 PM

Definitely need to make those cuts.  We actually spend over three times that on the Welfare Industrial Complex keeping Americans unemployed and dependent on politicians.  Cut the WIC even more.

Jubal Early's picture

One of the biggest cuts in the Trump budget was for the Army Corps of Engineers, close to 50% as I recall.  They do dams, levis and occupation infrastructure.  I didn't see where Trump is cutting occupation infrastructure, so it would appear he is not planning on managing all the repairs to US dams and levys through the CoE.

LongWalkHome's picture

Looking for clarification - the name is misleading it sounds as if  the Army Corps of Engineers is all mil people but it is NOT.   According to their website ACE is primarily comprised of civilian employees, approximately 32,000 civilians and soldiers make up the difference for around 37,000 total employees.  

Are the giga-layers of government bureacracy helpful?  What if the model was reversed and the private engineering firms took the work and the military loaned the 5,000 soldiers out as needed to the private firms?   

The options for negotiating prices seem to have improved recently.




Jubal Early's picture

The USACE does both civilian and military, it is "split".  On the military side there is always a military officer in charge.  On the civilian side it is usually a civil engineer.  Oroville dam in CA, recently in the news, was a USACE project.

On the civilian side the big word is "cost sharing" with local and state government.  Over the years more and more cost sharing has been required from local governments.  In occupation zones of course local governments are hit up to pay for projects too.  I am certain all the infrastruture for the Nato occupation of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania is managed USACE.  Ditto all the US airbases being created in Syria by the invading US DOD. 

As far as I am aware, no US soldiers perform manual labor for USACE.  It is all contracted out and USACE is primarliy contracts out design and contruction and merely manages projects all over the planet, albeit very inefficiently.  What else would you expect after 30 years of affirmtive action, EEO, and race quotas.  Also worth mentioning that of these career civil service employees at the corps probably 90% vote democrat and 50% are of "color".  Of course they would deny that this patronage has anything to do with inefficiency and bloat.

Honest John's picture

"California, Colorado, the Northeast and the Rust Belt are just some of the areas where the most high-risk dams and the oldest dams overlap."

OK Libertard destruction just a rain storm away.

zebrasquid's picture

I thought Omullato had handled all of this, since many believed he could part the waters with just his countenance.

CRM114's picture

I had an interesting chat with a just-retired US dam inspector trainer a couple of years back. I'll pass on his advice

"Don't go near any dams"

CC Lemon's picture

When the levee breaks, mama you got to go....

CRM114's picture

"Squeeze my lemon, baby.." ;)

insanelysane's picture

Of course the government keeps handing out unemployment checks.  They should be "employed building dams and bridges" checks.

lolmao500's picture

80 000 dams and not once did a terrorist try to blow one up. Thank god terrorists are stupid fucks

CRM114's picture

Blowing up dams is not easy.

I know of what I speak.

dizzyfingers's picture

More strange...they never went after D.C. 

gregga777's picture

False flag 'terrorists' never go after the Intellectual Yet Idiot Classes ruling morons.  That is how one can tell always tell the difference between a real terrorist attack and a false flag attack.