SB 157 Modifies laws pertaining to dam and reservoir safety
Sponsor: Engler
LR Number: 0169S.02I Fiscal Note: 0169-02
Committee: Commerce, Energy and the Environment
Last Action: 4/12/2007 - Hearing Conducted S Commerce, Energy and the Environment Committee Journal Page:
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2007

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Current Bill Summary


SB 157 - This act modifies provisions regarding dam and reservoir safety.

This act creates and defines three hazard classifications for dams and reservoirs: high hazard, significant hazard, and low hazard. The act limits the permitting and inspection requirements to only dams of high and significant hazards.

The act modifies the definition of a dam to include only those dams that are at least fifty feet in height that can impound at least one hundred acre-feet of water.

The act removes any reference to a registration or safety permit as required by the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council and instead requires the council to issue operating permits. An operating permit is issued to the owner of a high or significant hazard dam for a period up to five years indicating the dam meets all the statutory and regulatory requirements of this act and is adequately operated and maintained so as to protect public safety.

Dams and reservoirs with lake surface areas of ten acres or less at the water storage elevation that will be used primarily for fireclay quarry reclamation are exempted from the provisions of this act.

Currently one of the seven members of the dam and reservoir safety council must be an owner of a dam or reservoir. This act more specifically requires one of the members to be an owner of a high or significant hazard dam or reservoir.

The council is required to establish fees for the cost of renewal permits, design review, and inspection of high and significant hazard dams. The fees for design review may not exceed one percent of the total estimated cost of the dam or reservoir. The fees must be reviewed at least once every three years. A joint committee, appointed by the president pro tem of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, will be convened beginning June 1, 2008 to study the fees as established by the council and will submit a report by January 1, 2009.

The act removes language currently restricting the Department of Natural Resources from promulgating detailed technical specifications regarding design, construction, operation, maintenance, use, alteration, repair, or removal of a dam or reservoir.

Currently, applications for a construction permit require the seal and signature of either a professional engineer registered in Missouri or employed by certain state or federal agencies. This act requires that the application can only be signed by a professional engineer registered in Missouri. The act also removes language exempting dams from certain construction permit requirements if they were constructed and monitored by a qualified engineer working in dam construction for soil and water conservation, irrigation, or wildlife conservation.

Under current law, dams and reservoirs primarily used for agricultural purposes are exempt from the provisions of this act, however, the act adds a provision that allows owners of agricultural dams or reservoirs to choose to be regulated on a voluntary basis. Any request to remove a voluntarily-regulated agricultural dam from regulation must be approved by the director of the Department of Natural Resources.

If any non-regulated agricultural dam or reservoir is believed to pose a high hazard, the act authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to conduct an engineering study to determine the dam's hazard classification. If the department determines the dam to be a high hazard, it shall submit its findings to the soil and water conservation district encompassing the dam in question. If the district board rejects the high hazard classification, the dam shall remain exempt. The department may not conduct another engineering study on the same dam until one year has passed from the board's last rejection date. The board has a sixty-day timeframe in which to render its decision, otherwise the department will consider the dam a high hazard and regulate it accordingly.

The act includes timeframes for compliance with its provisions. Owners of all existing dams at the time of the act's effective date without a registration or safety permit must register with the Department of Natural Resources within six months. Owners of high or significant hazard dams shall apply for an operating permit within one year of the act's effective date and owners of dams or reservoirs licensed and operated under the Federal Power Act shall apply for an operating permit within three months of the act's effective date.

The acts add a requirement that an owner of a barrier or water impoundment that becomes a dam or reservoir shall register the new dam or reservoir with the council immediately. Additionally, if downstream conditions change the hazard classification of any existing dam or reservoir, the dam shall immediately be subject to the regulations for the new classification and the owner must notify the council of the change within three months.

Upon change of ownership, notification of the dam's current hazard classification transfers to the new owner along with the construction and operating permits. Failure to notify the Department of Natural Resources of a change in ownership will result in the previous owner being held responsible for meeting the statutory and regulatory requirements for the dam. If the previous owner is a dissolved or bankrupted corporation, its former officers, directors, and stockholders shall be responsible.

This act is similar to HB 159 (2007) and the perfected SB 1236 (2006).

ERIKA JAQUES