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Private dam not grandfathered from safety regs

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Because the possibility that a dam could break is a continuing risk, an old dam isn’t exempt from newer rules for dam safety. So said the Missouri Supreme Court in an opinion released on May 5, 2009, reversing the ruling of a Springfield trial judge.

The trial judge threw out a suit filed by the Missouri Attorney General against the Olives, who had purchased a farm with an old dam on it. The suit alleged that the Olives violated the Missouri dam and reservoir safety law by failing to register the dam with the Missouri Dam and Reservoir Safety Council, a state agency. The dam was built in 1974, five years before the dam and reservoir safety regulations went into effect.

Registration of a dam triggers the implementation of a safety program and requires the submittal of an as-built survey of the dam. In other words, registration is the beginning of a process that allows the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council to keep track of the dam, make requirements for maintenance and repairs, and review any proposals for modification of the dam.

The trial judge’s decision was based on two points Read the rest of this entry

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