WHY WE NEED STATE LEGISLATURES TO INTERCEDE
PUBLIC SAFETY REGULATIONS
Most states do not maintain inventories of, or regulate public safety at these structures because of their small sizes, or because their structural integrity is not considered an issue.
Pennsylvania and Illinois are the only states that have comprehensive laws that require owners of run-of-river dams to mark so-called “exclusion zones” above and below their dams, and on the banks immediately adjacent to the dams, with signs and buoys to warn the swimming, fishing, and boating public of the hazards posed by the dam.
Virginia has established code and standards for advising the owners of low head dams to mark hazardous areas with warning signs and buoys. Owners who do so are deemed to have met the duty of care for warning the public of the hydraulic hazards. Those who do not mark their dams are presumed not to have met the duty of care for warning the public.
Four or five states provide dam owners with general information about the hazards of low head dams and provide recommended warning sign and buoy installation guidance and templates. One federal agency has developed public safety procedures for hazards created by hydraulic structures and operations.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires owners of hydropower dams, including low head dams, operating under its jurisdiction to conform to specified public safety guidelines and regulations for protecting the public around these structures.