Threat of Aging Dams in Missouri

Estimated read time 4 min read

The condition of the nation’s aging dam infrastructure is an explanation for increasing worry. Public safety is gravely jeopardized by the aforementioned issue, which was made apparent by the disastrous breakdown of the Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa in 2010. This is especially dangerous in states like West Virginia and Missouri, where a substantial portion of high-hazard dams are either already in disrepair or have not had recent evaluations.

The Incident That Sparked Concern

The Breakdown of the Lake Delhi Dam: An Alarming Sign

A record-breaking 12-hour downpour in Iowa in July 2010 caused the Lake Delhi Dam to fall apart dramatically. This 80-year-old, 1920s-built building was taken over by the water, causing a 30-foot-wide crack and associated flooding. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported due to prompt evacuations. This event brought to light the dangers associated with old dams, which are made worse by climate change and failures made during construction and operation by humankind.

State-Specific Challenges

Missouri’s High-Hazard Dams: Missouri presents a concerning scenario with its 1,493 high-hazard dams. A surprising 69.9% of these dams, including the ones with concealed ratings, those in bad condition, as well as the ones without recent inspections, have the potential to be deadly. Of these dams, roughly twenty-four percent had their most recent inspection undertaken before to 2000, and 42% had not been examined in a long time. Individuals who live close to these structures are at serious risk as a result of this scenario.

West Virginia’s Aging Dam Infrastructure: Similarly, West Virginia has 419 high-hazard dams, with 47.7% potentially threatening resident safety. This includes dams in poor or unsatisfactory condition, those lacking inspections, and those with unspecified ratings. The state, like Missouri, faces the challenge of addressing these potential hazards to prevent future disasters.

National Perspective and Analysis

Data Analysis by GetMyBoat and the Army Corps of Engineers

National analysis by GetMyBoat, using data from the Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams (NID), reveals the alarming state of dam infrastructure. With over 90,000 dams listed, the growing number of structures in poor and unsatisfactory condition is concerning. The analysis ranks counties based on the share of high-hazard dams posing a danger to human life, considering their condition, inspection status, and local population density.

The Role of State Agencies

State agencies are the primary source of knowledge about dam conditions for the Army Corps of Engineers. States that have been cautious to provide every piece of information accessible, such as North Dakota, Oregon, and Illinois, have done so because of financial limitations or considerations about national security. It becomes difficult for locals to evaluate the safety of neighboring dams because of this lack of awareness.

Looking Forward: The Path to Dam Safety

West Virginia and Missouri serve as prime demonstrates of the larger problem of the US’s eroding dam system. Federal, state, and city governments need to work together to address this issue. To ensure dam safety and avert future catastrophes, prompt inspections, open reporting, and routine maintenance constitute crucial measures.

Furthermore, populations need to be protected, and this requires adaptation to the growing risk factors that climate change offers.


In the US, the condition of aging dams is a ticking time bomb, with West Virginia and Missouri serving as prominent instances of the urgent need for action. Safeguarding both individuals and assets requires more than just maintaining these buildings; it also involves ensuring they are secure. The need to solve these issues is become increasingly urgent as the towns bordering these dams continue to expand.

Consumers can visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam Safety Program for comprehensive insights as well as information on dam safety and the condition of US facilities.

Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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