Safety of Flood Control Dams in Mississippi

Author(s): Cummings, A.

In the 1960's and 1970's, the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service [NRCS]) constructed hundreds of earthen dams throughout the State. These dams were constructed primarily for flood control purposes under the directives of PL-534 and PL-566. They were designed and built using federal funding and were locally sponsored by county or local drainage districts. As part of the agreement the drainage districts accepted the responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the dams. Unfortunately, many of the drainage districts are no longer functioning, or are not functioning as intended. Nearly all of these dams have maintenance issues (some serious), but without a functioning drainage district to hold accountable, correcting these issues is a challenge. The MDEQ Dam Safety Division has been working with the NRCS, the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission (MSWCC), local governments, and landowners to try to bring these dams into compliance with State regulations and prevent dam failures. This presentation will discuss the status of these dams as well as previous and future efforts planned to try and improve the condition and safety of these dams.

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