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Posted 5/27/2016

Release no. 16-011

Steve Rochette

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District recognizes National Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31, which commemorates the 1889 failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pa. The event was our nation’s worst dam failure and resulted in more than 2000 deaths.  

The USACE Philadelphia District owns and operates five earthfill dams in eastern Pennsylvania, which have prevented nearly $400 million in flood damages since their construction:

  • Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County (completed in 1978 - authorized purposes of flood control; water supply; water quality; and recreation)  
  • Beltzville Lake in Carbon County  (completed in 1972 - authorized purposes of flood control; water supply; water quality; and recreation)
  • Francis E. Walter Dam in both Luzerne and Carbon County (completed in 1961 - authorized purposes of flood control and recreation)
  • Prompton Lake and Jadwin Dam in Wayne County (both completed in 1960 - authorized purpose of flood control)

Dam safety activities include regular inspections and assessments; communication and exercises; structural modifications; and management. 

USACE owns and operates more than 700 dams in the United States, including six of the ten largest reservoirs; however, there are more than 87,000 dams across the country. Living with dams and managing risk is a shared responsibility. People are encouraged to understand their risk; prepare for emergencies; and to listen to guidance from their local officials. 

Dams provide numerous benefits to the country—contributing to $13.4 billion in flood damages prevented. In addition, USACE dams provide clean water for municipal and industrial use; produce zero-emission hydropower; and provide recreational opportunities for millions of visitors annually. For more information on dam safety awareness, visit the Association of State Dam Safety Officials webpage.  

dam safety National Dam Safety Awareness Day