Governor Matt Blunt wants Missouri to have more authority over federally regulated dams, such as Taum Sauk, which breached last year. His request would increase the number of dams the state oversees to at least 5000, instead of the current 600.

Under Blunt’s plan, the state would regulate and perhaps inspect dams of over 2m tall with a reservoir capacity of 50 acre-feet (61,672m3). His request accompanied the release of dam safety recommendations from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR are proposing that dams of 7.5m or higher that can hold 50 acre-feet (61,672m3) be inspected by a licensed professional engineer every:

• 1-2 years for a ‘high hazard’ structure (where failure would cause casualties).

• 3-5 years if the dam poses a ‘significant hazard’, where a breach would not cause death but would damage property and the environment.

Taum Sauk, in southeast Missouri, breached in December 2005. The plant’s 6.8B litre, 20ha reservoir was ruptured in the northwest corner, causing water to flow into Reynolds county.

Current dam safety laws in the state have not been updated or changed significantly since they were introduced almost 25 years ago.

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