Oklahoma Water Resources Board the Water Agency

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The OWRB coordinates the Oklahoma Dam Safety Program to ensure the safety of more than 4,600 dams in the state. We are committed to protecting Oklahomans from harm and liability potentially associated with dams.

Dam Safety Program


Reclassification of the Hazard-Potential for an Existing Dam


Houses or other structures can be built downstream of a dam and the dam owner frequently does not have any control of the land in the breach inundation area for their dam. Therefore, the areas below a dam should be periodically checked, by the owner of the dam, for changes within these areas.

OWRB rule 785:25-3-3(b)(3) states “The hazard-potential classification of a dam may change as the area downstream from the dam develops and the dam may be reclassified from time to time under the provisions of 785:25-9-10 and 785:25-9-11.” Therefore, if a residence, business, or other structures and improvements are built within the potential dam breach inundation area below the dam then the hazard-potential classification of the dam may have to be changed.

Once the determination has been made to reclassify the hazard potential of the dam to either a significant or high hazard potential, the dam owner will be notified of the reclassification (785:25-9-10).

The owner of the dam will be required to upgrade the dam to meet with OWRB guidelines. Upgrades to the dam may involve modification to the spillway to meet the requirements for a higher hazard-potential dam. In addition to possible structural upgrades to the dam, the owner will also be required to begin having the dam regularly inspected.

A professional engineer must perform inspections for high hazard-potential dams annually, and once every three years for significant hazard-potential dams. Additionally, for those dams reclassified as a high hazard-potential an emergency action plan and dam breach inundation map must be completed, as well as a detailed report of the dam breach analysis for review and approval. A schedule of compliance may be developed which sets the time frames for the various stages of work to be performed.

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