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Research Project: Development of Engineering Tools for the Design and Rehabilitation of Safe, Efficient Embankment Protection Alternatives, Hydraulic Structures, and Channels

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Title: DAM! Why should you care?

item Hunt, Sherry

Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2021
Publication Date: 7/1/2021
Citation: Hunt, S. 2021. DAM! Why should you care?. Resource Magazine. July/August:30-31.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The USDA is the engineer of record of more than 30,000 dams across the US with 12,000 of these dams constructed under the USDA Small Watershed Program authority. More than 50 percent of these dams have reached the end of their planned service life. The generational stories of the floods across the American Midwest from the 1940s to the 1960s sets the stage for this article before discussing the creation of the USDA Small Watershed Program, the benefits it provides, and the research support provided by scientists at the USDA-ARS Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit (HERU) in Stillwater, OK. Specific examples of dams and their benefits and personal reflection of the author on what these dams mean to her give credence as to why one should care about this program and the innovative, economic solutions being developed by ARS scientists in continued support for this program. These dams play a critical role in America's agricultural future as they provide flood management, rural and municipal water supplies for economic development, erosion control, agricultural productivity, recreation, and healthy ecosystems. In closing, a challenge is issued to be part of the future that seeks to repair these aging dams through application of design standards and engineering tools and scientific discovery of new technology to support the rehabilitation of these dams.