Edward G. Rendell, the governor for Pennsylvania wrote to the US president this week, asking Congress to enable a Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act to provide grants and loans to repair unsafe dams, pay for the US Army Corps of Engineers to draw up an updated inventory of dams across the US and support dam safety emergency measures to increase security.

‘Our national security, the safety of our ageing dam infrastructure, and our ability to respond to dam hazard emergencies are compromised by the lack of a national dam safety programme,’ said Rendell.

The state of Pennsylvania already has its own regulations that require dam operators to prepare emergency action plans every two years, identifying people and infrastructure vulnerable to dam failures. The Department of Environmental Protection is to issue orders against 23 dam owners for refusing repeated requests to comply with these regulations.

Rendell has also taken the opportunity to call on other US governors and congressional delegations in a bid to shore up support for a dam safety initiative.