Purpose - To provide for proper and safe design, construction, operation and maintenance of dams to protect public safety.
Authority - The Virginia Dam Safety Act, Article 2, Chapter 6, Title 10.1 (10.1-604 et seq) of the Code of Virginia and Dam Safety Impounding Structure Regulations (Dam Safety Regulations), established and published by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (VSWCB). Virginia's Dam Safety Regulations were last updated on Nov. 8, 2012.
Permit Requirements - No person or entity shall construct, begin to construct, alter or begin to alter an impounding structure until the VSWCB issues a construction permit or an alteration permit.
Which Dams are Subject to the Law? All dams in Virginia are subject to the Dam Safety Act and Dam Safety Regulations unless specifically excluded. A dam is excluded if it:
Hazard Potential Classification of Dams - Dams are classified with a hazard potential depending upon the downstream losses anticipated in event of failure. Hazard potential unrelated to the structural integrity of a dam. Rather, it is directly related to potential adverse downstream impacts should the given dam fail.
Click here to learn more about dam classification.
Click here for guidance on who may be considered an "owner" of a dam.
Certificates - The owner of each regulated high, significant, or low hazard dam is required to apply to the board for an Operation and Maintenance Certificate. The application must include an assessment of the dam by a licensed professional, an Emergency Action Plan and the appropriate fee(s), submitted under separate cover. Click here for a list of fees and fees form. An executed copy of the Emergency Action Plan or Emergency Preparedness Plan must be filed with the appropriate local emergency official and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
The VSWCB issues Regular Operation and Maintenance Certificates to the dam owner for a period of six years. If a dam has a deficiency but does not pose imminent danger, the board may issue a Conditional Operation and Maintenance Certificate, during which time the dam owner is to correct the deficiency.
After a dam is certified by the board, annual inspections are required either by a professional engineer or the dam owner, and the Annual Inspection Report is submitted to the regional dam safety engineer. Inspections by a professional engineer are required at the following frequency:
Click here for MS Word versions of the above forms.
The Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund was recently authorized to provide funding for qualified dam rehabilitation, dam break inundation zone mapping and floodplain projects proposed by local governments and private entities. Click here to download the manual.
Click here to download a map depicting Virginia's dam safety regions and pertinent contact information. You may also contact DCR's Dam Safety Program staff at (804) 371-6095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia's Floodplain Management Program
To address such problems, Virginia's General Assembly enacted the Virginia Flood Damage Reduction Act of 1989. This legislation was the result of several disastrous floods or coastal storms that hit the state between 1969 and 1985. To improve Virginia's flood protection programs and place related programs in one agency, responsibility for coordination of all state floodplain programs was transferred in 1987 from the Water Control Board to DCR. DCR was named manager of the state's floodplain program and designated coordinating agency of the National Flood Insurance Program under the act, §10.1-602, and a governor's memorandum released in July 1997.
Floodplain Management Program staff works with localities to establish and enforce floodplain management zoning. Localities use the program's state model ordinances, in which minimum standards for local regulations are set, to write their own. (Please contact DCR staff to obtain the model ordinances.) Local governments can set more restrictive standards to ensure higher levels of protection for residents in flood hazard areas. Also, the state has used the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code to set construction standards for structures built in Federal Emergency Management Agency designated flood hazard areas.
Floodplain zoning regulates how development is allowed within floodplains. The program's main goal is to protect people and their property from unwise floodplain development. It also protects society from costs associated with developed floodplains.