Dam Safety Quarterly - May 2023

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May 2023

DS Update

Dam Safety at Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association (OFMA) Workshop

Natalie OFMA

On April 11, 2023, dam safety staff presented at the 2023 OFMA Spring Technical Workshop. Staff dam safety engineer, Natalie, explained the eligibility requirements, application process, and current status of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD) grant program. The OWRB has applied for the HHPD grant program every year since it started in 2019 and have received over $3 million dollars to help fund dam rehabilitation projects for eligible high hazard potential dams in Oklahoma. Check out this link for more information on the HHPD grant program: Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams Grant Program Guidance & Resources | FEMA.gov.

Keep an eye out this fall for the 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity for the HHPD grant program!

OWRB Selects Dam Owners for Oklahoma Dam Rehabilitation (OKDR) Grant Program 

In 2022, the Oklahoma Legislature passed Senate Bill 429 and Senate Bill 13 appropriating state ARPA funds to the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) to establish grant programs for dam rehabilitation. With these funds the OWRB created the Oklahoma Dam Rehabilitation (OKDR) grant program. The OKDR grant program provides up to $1 million per community for eligible dam rehabilitation projects.

At the end of 2022 the dam safety team collected applications, had preliminary meetings, and selected eligible dam owners for funding through the OKDR grant program. Eligible applicants were selected based on dam owner community size, dam condition rating, and downstream population at risk. To date the OWRB has approved $3 million in OKDR grant program funding for high hazard potential dam rehabilitation projects.

Dam Safety Approved to Present at Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) National Conference

2023 Dam Safety


The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) dam safety program and financial assistance program have successfully paired several different State and Federal funding sources to complete dam rehabilitation projects. Over $30 million in loans and grants have been awarded to qualified dam owners through a combination of funding sources including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund; the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s High Hazard Potential Dam grant program; and OWRB’s Financial Assistance loan program, Rural Economic Action Plan grant program, and Emergency grant program. The Oklahoma legislature also appropriated OWRB $10 million through the US Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Act. 

This September, dam safety staff will present on Oklahoma's innovative solutions to funding dam safety projects at the 2023 ASDSO National Dam Safety Conference. Register for the conference here: Dam Safety 2023 | Association of State Dam Safety


National Dam Safety Awareness Day occurs on May 31st of each year to commemorate the failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889. The dam failure resulted in the loss of more than 2,200 lives and was the worst dam failure in the history of the United States.

The collapse of the South Fork Dam was a tragedy and is not an isolated incident. As we observe and reflect on the South Fork Dam tragedy 133 years later, we encourage you to understand the continued importance of dam safety, the roles various parties play, current issues, and why investment in this infrastructure is urgently needed.

In Honor of National Dam Safety Awareness Day, we encourage everyone to:

1. Learn about the dams in Oklahoma and the United States


2. Learn about "hazard creep" at dams

hazard creep

Aerial imagery comparison (1937 vs. 2018) showing infrustructure development downstream of three dams in southwest Denver, Colorado. (Photo Source: Google Earth, 2019)

3. Learn about the cost of dam rehabilitation

dam rehab cost

(Photo Source: ASDSO The Cost of Rehabilitating Dams in the U.S., 2023)

4. Register for an upcoming dam safety training

Event Title:


Design and Technical Specifications Review



Latest Trends in Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) Spillways and Overtopping Protection


Application of Risk Principles within State Dam Safety Programs


Inspection & Assessment of Dams



Basic Soil Mechanics Related to Earth Dams



Understanding Static Liquefaction






A Perfect Storm of Flawed Judgments and Decisions


Dam Safety 2023



 Seismic Deformation Analyses of Embankment Dams and Levees


Spillway Gates and Dewatering Systems - Lessons Learned and Practical Solutions


Slope Stability Modeling for Embankment Dams: Planning, Interpreting, and Reporting Results