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Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition

Aging Dam Infrastructure Is A Billion-Dollar Problem

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Image credit: Photo by Héctor Emilio Gonzalez on Unsplash

The U.S. averages 10 dam failures a year, but the $20 billion needed to repair non-federal dams could prove prohibitive.

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The dam failures that have inundated Midland and surrounding communities with water are the latest example in a growing problem in the nation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the average age of dams in the country is 57 years.

Our policy-makers have got to understand that this isn’t just a piece of infrastructure that provides a service, it can also be a public safety hazard,”

Lori Spragens is the executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. She says incidents like this are preventable, if politicians pay attention.

Our policy-makers have got to understand that this isn’t just a piece of infrastructure that provides a service, it can also be a public safety hazard,” Spragens says.

Spragens says the U.S. faces on average ten dam failures per year.

The likely reason for the hesitance by lawmakers to provide funding – the cost. Spragens says the cost to fix the critical, non-federal dams in the U.S. would near $20 billion.

Click on the player above to hear Dam Safety Official Lori Spragens on aging U.S. infrastructure.

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Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. While working as an audio engineer for ABC Sports, he was sprayed with champagne as the Detroit Pistons celebrated their championship in 2004.

russmcnamara@wdet.org

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