National Dam Safety Awareness Day was established to remember the 2,220 people who lost their lives in the 1889 South Fork Dam failure near Johnston, Pennsylvania. As we observe the 132nd anniversary of this tragedy, we encourage you to research the importance of dam safety and the need for investment in this critical infrastructure. For further information on this tragedy, visit Case Study: South Fork Dam.


Dams are a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure and provide a life-sustaining resource to people in all United States regions; however, they must be maintained to keep them safe. Failure or malfunction can result in the release of harmful substances, creating negative health and environmental impacts.

By 2030, seven out of 10 dams in the United States will be over 50 years old. While the age of a dam is not necessarily a direct indicator of its condition, it could indicate that it was not built to today's standards. Occasional upgrade or rehabilitation is necessary due to deterioration, changing technical standards, improved techniques, better understanding of the area's precipitation conditions, and changes in downstream populations or land use.

The City of Laurel has two major dams (T. Howard Duckett Dam and Brighton Dam) and reservoirs (Rocky Gorge Reservoir and T. Howard Duckett Reservoir) that feed into the Patuxent River watershed. This directly impacts the City’s risk of flooding following a minor or major dam operation malfunction.

To evaluate your person risk, visit the Maryland Dam Inventory to view dams in your area. For further information on dam safety and ways you can prepare your family, click below. 


Dam Safety Fact Sheet

Additional Resources