Safe Dams Program FAQ (Owner Inspections)

  • What are the new requirements concerning dam inspections?
    According to the Georgia Safe Dams Act and Rules for Dam Safety, owners are responsible for inspecting their dams. The recent amendments to the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources, Chapter 391-3-8-.10 established the schedule by which owners must inspect their dams, submit their completed reports to the Safe Dams Program, and have an engineer inspect their dam every two years. In addition to any specific inspection and maintenance program requirements included in a dam owner’s permit, dam owners must also inspect their dam on a quarterly basis and provide their reports to the Safe Dams Program each year by April 30. For dams with a height of less than 50 feet, an owner may request a waiver for one round of engineer-led inspections. There are no request waivers for dams with a height of 50 feet or more. Please note that one engineer-led inspection also satisfies owner inspections for the quarters between October 1 and March 31 of that year. (See Why am I required to submit inspection reports to the Safe Dams Program?, (When do owner inspections need to be performed? When do I need to send my reports to the Safe Dams Program?, Can I hire someone to inspect my dam for me? )
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  • What are owner inspections?

    An owner inspection is an inspection performed by or on the behalf of the dam owner on a quarterly basis. The approved inspection Download this pdf file. form and Download this pdf file. instructions are located at http://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch. The quarterly inspections should then be submitted to the Safe Dams Program on a yearly basis by April 30 of each year. Routine inspection and maintenance allows early detection of many problems that may occur with a dam. The dam owner is required to immediately contact the Safe Dams Program when a potential failure is noticed.

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  • Why do I have to inspect my dam?
    According to the Georgia Safe Dams Act and Rules for Dam Safety, owners are responsible for inspecting their dams. The recent amendments to the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources, Chapter 391-3-8-.10 established the schedule by which owners must inspect their dam and submit their completed reports to the Safe Dams Program. Routine inspection and maintenance allows early detection of many problems that may occur with a dam. The dam owner is required to submit quarterly reports to the Safe Dams Program; however owners should contact the Safe Dams Program immediately when a potential failure is noticed.
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  • Why am I required to submit inspection reports to the Safe Dams Program?
    According to the Georgia Safe Dams Act and Rules for Dam Safety, owners are responsible for inspecting their dams. The recent amendments to the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources, Chapter 391-3-8-.10 established the schedule by which owners must inspect their dam and submit their completed reports to the Safe Dams Program.
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  • If there are multiple owners of a dam, does each owner have to submit inspection reports?
    No. There must be one set of complete inspection reports submitted per year per dam. It is the responsibility of each dam owner to ensure the dam is inspected quarterly and reports are provided to the Safe Dams Program on an annual basis.
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  • When do owner inspections need to be performed? When do I need to send my reports to the Safe Dams Program?
    In addition to any specific inspection and maintenance program requirements included in a dam owner’s permit, owners must inspect their dam on a quarterly basis. Calendar quarters are January 1 through March 31, April 1 through June 30, July 1 through September 30, and October 1 through December 31. The quarterly reports developed for inspections occurring between April 1 of the preceding calendar year and March 31 of the current year must be submitted to the Safe Dams Program by April 30 of each year. To clarify, all of the quarterly reports for the year should be mailed in to the Safe Dams Program at one time by April 30 of each year. Engineer-led inspections must be performed between October 1 and March 31 and can be included in the submission of the quarterly report to the Safe Dams Program. Please note that one engineer-led inspection also satisfies owner inspections for the quarters between October 1 and March 31of that year. The reports may be mailed to 2 Martin Luther King Drive, S.E., Suite 1362, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334.
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  • How do I complete an inspection report? What must be included in the report?

    The approved inspection Download this pdf file. form and Download this pdf file. instructions are located at http://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch. The form includes areas for you to indicate the condition of the dam and its appurtenant structures. You should inspect the crest, downstream slope, upstream slope, plunge pool, spillways, and instrumentation. Photographs of important features must be included in your report. You should submit photographs of the crest, upstream slope, downstream slope, and any notable features/ deficiencies including areas where corrective action was performed. Photographs should be taken in color and date stamped. As part of the engineer-led inspection report, the engineer must complete the Download this pdf file. dam inspection form or equivalent and include a cover letter which summarizes the inspection and contains their official Professional Engineer stamp and signature.

    The Safe Dams Program staff is willing to assist any owner who has questions regarding how to perform and document the inspection of their dam. Owners are encouraged to contact the program if they have any questions. Routine inspection and maintenance allows early detection of many problems that may occur with a dam. The dam owner is required to immediately contact the Safe Dams Program when a major deficiency or potential failure is noticed. Owners may notify the program of minor deficiencies through the required quarterly reports.

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  • Is there an approved example that I can follow as I inspect my dam?

    The approved inspection Download this pdf file. form and Download this pdf file. instructions can be located at http://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch. The form includes areas for you to indicate the condition of the dam and its appurtenant structures. Photographs of important features must be included in your report. You should submit photographs of the crest, upstream slope, downstream slope, and any notable features/ deficiencies including areas where corrective action was performed. Photographs should be taken in color and date stamped.

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  • Will the Safe Dams Program inspect my dam for me?

    According to the Georgia Safe Dams Act and Rules for Dam Safety, it is the responsibility of the dam owner to inspect and maintain their dam. Private consultants who specialize in dams can be retained to perform a thorough inspection of the dam. At a minimum, an engineer must be a Natural Resources Conservation Service State Engineer, an Engineer of Record, or an engineer licensed by the State of Georgia to inspect your dam for an engineer-led inspection. In addition to completing the Download this pdf file. dam inspection form , the engineer must also provide a cover letter which summarizes the inspection and includes their official Professional Engineer stamp and signature.

    Dams must be inspected by an engineer at least every two years between October 1 and March 31. If your dam is less than 50 feet in height, you may submit a waiver request to forego one two-year engineer inspection. Waiver requests cannot be submitted for dams with a height of 50 feet or more. The engineer-led inspection requirement begins October 1, 2017.

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  • Can I hire someone to inspect my dam for me?

    You may hire someone to perform the owner-led inspections that dam owners are required to perform. For the required engineer-led inspections, an engineer must inspect the dam. Private consultants who specialize in dams can be retained to perform a thorough inspection of the dam. At a minimum, an engineer must be the Natural Resources Conservation Service State Engineer, an Engineer of Record, or an engineer licensed by the State of Georgia. In addition to completing the Download this pdf file. dam inspection form , the engineer must also provide a cover letter which summarizes the inspection and includes their official Professional Engineer stamp and signature.

    Dams must be inspected by an engineer at least every two years between October 1 and March 31. If your dam is less than 50 feet in height, you may submit a waiver request to forego one two-year engineer inspection. Waiver requests cannot be submitted for dams with a height of 50 feet or more. The engineer-led inspection requirement begins October 1, 2017.

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  • Why are inspections by an engineer required?
    Routine inspection and maintenance performed by owners allows for early detection of many problems that may occur with a dam. The owner will be able to frequently monitor deficiencies, perform maintenance, and identify potential failures. However, an engineer who specializes in dams can perform thorough inspections and identify serious conditions that a typical owner would not have the expertise to identify. The engineer will be able to provide a more in-depth investigation and recommend appropriate corrective actions to ensure the safety of the dam.
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  • What is a waiver request?
    A waiver request is a form completed by the owner which requests the waiver of one two-year cycle of the required engineer-led inspection. Any dam which is less than 50 feet tall and that the owner has submitted four consecutive quarterly inspections qualifies for the waiver; however, the waiver may be denied for reasons which include, but are not limited to, inspection reports showing deficiencies that have not yet been corrected or enforcement actions within the past 24 months. The request must be provided to the Safe Dams Program by October 1.
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  • Why was my waiver request denied?
    Your waiver request may be denied for reasons which include, but are not limited to, inspection reports which show deficiencies that have not yet been corrected, Division enforcement actions within the past 24 months, submittal of the request past the October 1 deadline, or you may not qualify to submit a waiver. A waiver request may only be considered by the Safe Dams Program if the dam owner has submitted four consecutive quarterly inspections and the dam is less than 50 feet in height. If you have further questions concerning the denial of your request, you should contact the Safe Dams Program by mail at 2 Martin Luther King Drive S.E., Suite 1362, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334 or by phone at (404) 463-2461.
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  • What types of trees and vegetation are allowed to grow on my dam?
    A healthy cover of low-growing grass is desirable as erosion protection. The growth of deep-rooted vegetation, such as large shrubs and trees, is undesirable as it may decrease the integrity of the dam. If the trees and shrubs are less than 8” in diameter, the trees and shrubs must be removed from the dam, any holes must be filled in and compacted, and the area must be seeded. If the trees and shrubs are greater than 8” in diameter, then an Engineer of Record must be hired to determine the best way to safely remove the inappropriate vegetation and repair the dam. Appropriate vegetation such as grass should be regularly mowed to allow for easy identification of problems with the dam. (See What is an Engineer of Record? )
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  • What is an Engineer of Record?

    As defined by the Rules for Dam Safety, an Engineer of Record (EOR) is a licensed engineer registered in the State of Georgia who has at least 7 years of demonstrated experience related to the investigation, design and/or construction of dams. The Engineer of Record designation is conferred by the Safe Dams Program after an engineer has substantiated his/her qualifications by application prior to his/her engagement by an owner/operator of a Category I dam. While the Engineer of Record designation indicates demonstrated experience related to dams, it is not an endorsement by the State of any particular engineer. During Category I dam construction or modification, an Engineer of Record must be retained to design and oversee construction. General duties of the Engineer of Record are listed in the Download this pdf file. Engineer Guidelines . You may find the Engineer of Record list at the bottom of our webpage at http://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch.

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  • How do I know if something is wrong with my dam?
    Major indicators of possible dam failure include heavy seepage, overflowing water (overtopping), sink holes, sand boils, muddy water flow from drains, and unusual water level. Other symptoms of failure include, but are not limited to erosion, surface cracks, settlement, movement, and wetness on the slope of the embankment. (See Who should I contact in case of an emergency?)
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  • What do I do if something is wrong with my dam?

    If this is an emergency situation where a condition develops unexpectedly, endangers the structural integrity of the dam and/or downstream property and human life, and requires immediate action, you should follow your Emergency Action Plan. If this plan has not been developed, you should call 9-1-1 or your county Emergency Management Agency (EMA) followed by a call to the Safe Dams Program.

    If this is NOT an emergency situation and you have found issues such as minor sloughing, erosion, slowly developing wetness on the slopes or beyond the toe, or maintenance issues, you should notify the Safe Dams Program in accordance with your permit requirements and by including these items in your quarterly report. You may hire an Engineer of Record to investigate the extent of damage. If any repairs must be made to the dam or its appurtenant structures, you must receive the approval of the Safe Dams Program. Repairing your dam may require hiring an Engineer of Record. You may find the Engineer of Record list at the bottom of our webpage at http://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch. (See What is an Engineer of Record?)

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  • Who should I contact in case of an emergency?

    If you have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), you should follow the procedures outlined in your EAP. If an EAP has not yet been developed, you should contact 9-1-1 or your county Emergency Management Agency (EMA) followed by a call to the Safe Dams Program.

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