Dam Rehabilitation and Benefits Explained by the Experts


Current Problems with Dam Rehabilitation

As housing developments keep encroaching on former farm land, numerous old farm ponds and dams are incorporated into new residential communities. Well-placed water features elevate property values and serve to beautify communities when they are properly attended. People love to have a body of water retained within the community. The aesthetics, value, and green space within the community are all enhanced with robust water bodies. The many benefits of fully functional dams manifest as recreational areas, flood control, water storage, mine tailings, hydropower, and debris control.   

Unfortunately a lot of these old farm ponds have dams that were constructed with cheap materials such as corrugated metal pipes for controlling the water level within the pond.  Sometimes the property developer upgrades the farm pond and dam, sometimes the developer does not spend the money on any upgrades. Sometimes these ponds are used for stormwater retention, but the riser within the pond is not upgraded to meet the capacity of the new flows entering the pond.  


Dam Maintenance 101

Regardless of how old pond and dam structures are, ongoing maintenance is required to sustain their value within the community. Shield has worked with many clients replacing and lining the old corrugated metal pipes placed within dam systems. Invariably, many dams exhibit other forms of maintenance needs – for example the connections between the riser in the pond and the barrel through the dam are usually points of weakness. Shield has seen a number of such failures. Left unaddressed, nearby residents suffer depreciation; sprawling ponds and lakes shrivel into mud holes.

The maintenance of a dam is serious business, especially if the dam has been classified as a high hazard. Lives may be at risk if something untoward happens with the dam structure. Should disaster strike downstream, in the event of dam failure, the responsibility for damages ultimately falls upon the owner of the dam.  


Dam Hazard Potential Classifications Explained

Low Hazard Potential Dam: Describes systems where failure would not result in loss of life, massive economic, or environmental detriment. Many low hazard dams are located in bucolic areas where losses are minimized to immediate property ownership, small roads, and isolated woodland areas.

Significant Hazard Potential Dam: Dam sites wherein flooding does not pose a threat to human life but may cause notable environmental damage, considerable economic losses, and potential interruption of surrounding lifeline facilities. Dams of this caliber may inflict significant damage to surrounding residential areas, staple highways, commercial edifices, and neighboring utilities.

High Hazard Dams: Anticipated loss of human life in the event of failure, high hazard dams reside in populated areas with the potential to raze homes, businesses, community structures, roadways, and railroad crossings.


Healthy Dam Benefits

The rehabilitation of dams serves not only an aesthetic purpose but in a wide variety of practical uses with the potential to dramatically impact the communities they exist within. Here are seven benefits of incorporating healthy dam systems within our landscape:

1. Recreational Usage

Dams serve as bustling hubs for family and sporting recreational activities including boating, water skiing, camping, picnic destinations, hiking trail features, and thriving boat launch facilities. Additionally, dams create lively ecosystems for native wildlife.

2. Prompt Flooding Control

Dams are a powerful source of flood control and help farmers, residents, and businesses alike divert troublesome flood currents. Flood-prone environments without sufficient drainage measures are in peril from loss of life and insurmountable property damage. Healthy dams allow public officials to redirect problematic floodwaters for beneficial uses including water body revitalization efforts and water storage.

3. Water Storage System

Water collected through damming systems is leveraged throughout the agricultural industry, industrial uses, and municipal endeavors. Modernized water storage systems reduce their negative impact on surrounding environments. Some systems augment the quality of life for native fish and wildlife. Water stored from dams is often utilized to supplement communities during droughts and is used to revitalize barren water bodies.

4. Irrigation Solutions

Ten percent of the entirety of the American agricultural industry leverages stored dam water to irrigate their crops. Irrigation via damming systems offers a robust array of career offerings and helps stabilize the American job market.

5. Mine Tailings

Mine tailings are specialized dams leveraged to store mining waste – as a direct result from mining and separating mineral deposits; mine tailings are large constructs typically confined within a pond to contain contamination. Some structures repurpose large lakes.

6. Wielding the Power of Hydropower

Dams are singularly responsible for producing upwards of 103,800 megawatts of hydropower. The United States is second only to Canada in the creation of hydro-electricity.  

7. Sensible Debris Control

Dams intermittently serve as debris collection centers for environmental protection endeavors and the confinement of hazardous waste and detrimental sediments.


Check the Condition of Your Dam with Shield

Numerous dams throughout the Carolinas require some form of rehabilitation to maintain their integrity as an effective and safe structure for years to come. Shield provides revitalizing engineering designs to slip-line damaged corrugated metal pipes, removal and replacement of non-functioning risers and barrels throughout dam structures, repairs risers, repairs cracks in concrete barrels, and numerous other dam related projects. For more information, visit our comprehensive environmental service selections.


We perform regular dam inspections for owners’ peace of mind and to recommend practical action items, ensuring property owners remain vigilant in maintaining their dam systems.


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