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May 13, 2008 (512) 463-0300

AUDIT SHOWS TEXAS NEEDS BETTER DAM OVERSIGHT

(DALLAS) -- At a Tuesday meeting of the Senate Natural Resources Committee in Dallas, auditors said that the state only has seven dam inspectors, and while this number is supplemented by private contractors, only 43 percent of high hazard dams are inspected every five years. State auditors warned lawmakers that Texas lacks the manpower or resources to ensure consistent inspection of the 7600 dams under state regulation. At issue are some 1600 "high- and significant-hazard" dams that pose a downstream threat to life and property in the event of a failure.

The audit report also found that statutes regarding dam inspection and safety are out of date, and the state needs a program to help dam owners make necessary repairs. The report recommends the state update its inspection standards, increase agency power to enforce those standards, and devise a way to assess and prioritize inspections for dams that pose a bigger potential threat to the public. Warren Samuelson, Dam Safety Program Coordinator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, testified that his program would need 24 additional full-time employees in order to meet these recommendations.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee is chaired by Senator Kip Averitt of Waco and is composed of Senators Craig Estes, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Glenn Hegar, Mike Jackson, Kevin Eltife, Kel Seliger, Kim Brimer, Carlos Uresti, Robert Duncan and Bob Deuell.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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