The key to understanding why regular inspection of dams is so important is to recognize that a dam is a man-made structure that is constructed of materials subject to erosion, corrosion, weathering and deterioration. Depending on many factors, a dam may either deteriorate slowly or quickly, but every dam will always deteriorate over time. If problems with the dam go unnoticed, and repair and maintenance measures are not taken, the dam can fail, causing property damage downstream and possible loss of life. Problems that are not recognized and corrected will always progress.
Periodic inspections of a dam should be performed by both the owner and a professional engineer. Owners should make a thorough visual inspection of their dam at least twice a year, in the summer and in the winter. The dam should also be inspected following any major storm event.
Not only is it important that the owner make routine visual inspections of the dam, but s/he must be able to correctly recognize problems and unsafe conditions. The Division of Water has published an Operation, Maintenance and Inspection Manual, which is available to the dam owner upon request. This manual explains many of the common problems with dams, what to look for when inspecting a dam, and how to go about performing maintenance items. The owner should contact the Dam Safety Engineering Program at the Division of Water about any problems or safety concerns 614/265-6731.
In addition, the owner of a dam or levee which falls under the jurisdiction of the Division of Water, may request a periodic inspection by the Division of Water by calling the Dam Safety Engineering Program at 614/265-6731.