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State Auditor's Report: 100 Mass. Dams Are Rated Unsafe Or Poor

State Auditor's Report: 100 Mass. Dams Are Rated Unsafe Or Poor

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Published by WBUR
Outgoing state Auditor Joseph DeNucci says 100 dams owned by 62 cites and towns in Massachusetts are rated in unsafe or poor condition.
Outgoing state Auditor Joseph DeNucci says 100 dams owned by 62 cites and towns in Massachusetts are rated in unsafe or poor condition.

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Published by: WBUR on Jan 11, 2011
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11/11/2011

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Local Financial Impact Review
Massachusetts Dam Safety Law 
 A Report Issued Pursuant toGeneral Laws Chapter 11, Section 6B January 2011
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
AUDITOR OF THE COMMONWEALTHDIVISION OF LOCAL MANDATES
ONE WINTER STREET, 9
TH
FLOORBOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02108A. JOSEPH DeNUCCIAUDITORTEL (617) 727-0980(800) 462-COSTFAX (617) 727-0984
 
 
 
 
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
AUDITOR OF THE COMMONWEALTHSTATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
A. JOSEPH DeNUCCIAUDITORTEL (617) 727-2075FAX (617) 727-2383
January 11, 2011His Excellency Deval Patrick, GovernorThe Honorable Therese Murray, President of the SenateThe Honorable Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the HouseThe Honorable Chairs of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources &AgricultureThe Honorable Chairs of the Committee on Municipalities & Regional GovernmentHonorable Members of the General CourtI respectfully submit this review of the municipal financial impact of law and regulationgoverning dam safety in Massachusetts. This work was conducted pursuant to GeneralLaws Chapter 11, Section 6B, which grants the State Auditor’s Division of LocalMandates (DLM) authority to review any law or regulation that has a significant financialimpact at the local level of government.At the outset, this report provides a general overview of basic terms and data relative tothe 1,547 dams subject to state law in the Commonwealth, including those owned bymunicipalities, the state, and private parties. Consistent with its mission, DLM focuses onmunicipally owned dams, specifically those that present the greatest threats to publicsafety.DLM identifies 62 cities and towns that own 100 relatively large dams rated in unsafe orpoor condition that have the potential to cause loss of human life or significant propertyor infrastructure damage in the event of dam failure. The taxpayers in these communitiesface an estimated $60 million in remediation costs to reduce the likelihood of failure. Forthese 100 municipally owned critical dams, DLM presents data on the level of compliance with key statutory requirements and safety standards, including emergencyaction plans, inspections, maintenance, and remediation of substandard conditions. Of primary importance among these findings, owners of 75 of the 100 dams reviewed do nothave an emergency action plan to ensure a reasoned approach to evacuation of neighborhoods situated in potential harm’s way.In light of these findings, DLM makes two major recommendations. In the short term, theCommonwealth should ensure that every high hazard municipally owned critical dam hasan emergency action plan to warn nearby residents and to plot evacuation should damfailure become imminent due to seasonal floods or other causes. The approximate costfor the 14 municipally owned high hazard critical dams that lack this basic protection is$150,000. For longer term planning, the Commonwealth should establish a multi-year

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