Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Dam Fine Mess

After reading Jacques Leslie's fascinating account of three individuals who have dedicated their lives to either preventing dams from being built or ensuring that only the best ones are constructed, this article in the Christian Science Monitor caught my eye.

It points out that while all eyes are on the state of the country's bridges (and rightfully so), the state of dams in the US is even more dire. Collectively, American bridges received a 'C' grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in a 2005 survey while dams received a 'D' grade. Also:

"Since 1999, the number of 'high-hazard' dams rated 'deficient' has more than doubled, according to data from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials in Lexington, Ky...In 1999, the US had 546 such dams rated deficient. By last year, it had 1,333."

Does this mean we can expect another Johnstown Flood sometime soon? Hopefully not. But leaps forward in improving infrastructure only seem to happen post-disaster, and this time around that disaster was a bridge collapse. All y'all living next to a dam: watch out.