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ASDSO hopes to increase dam safety with new guide

The Association of Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) has prepared new guide intended to help inform the public about the benefits of dams and the risks associated with potential dam incidents and failures.

The guide, titled "Living With Dams: Know Your Risks", is available for viewing and download now on ASDSO's website.

"We all have an important role to play in creating a future where all dams are safe, and this guide answers important questions about why people should care about dams and what they should do if they live near a dam," ASDSO executive director Lori Spragens said.

Included in the guide are:

"We are providing important information to state dam safety programs, emergency managers, local officials, real estate agents and others to share with their stakeholders and the public," Spragens said.

In addition to urging the public to familiarize itself with dam operations and emergency procedures, ASDSO also suggests readers encourage policymakers to take measures to prevent catastrophic dam failures.

According to ASDSO, more than half of all dams in the United States are privately owned, with the owners being responsible for their safety, maintenance, repairs and upgrades. State and federal policymakers can increase dam safety, ASDSO said, by providing strong laws and resources for safety programs. reported in March that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) had given the country's dams a "D" grade on its 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure.

The release of ASDSO's "Living With Dams" guide coincides with National Dam Safety Awareness Day, which takes place Friday, May 31. The day was created in 1999 and commemorates the date of the South Fork Dam failure, which killed more than 2,000 near Johnstown, Penn., when it collapsed in 1889.

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