Purpose: The Office of Dam Safety maintains records of dams located throughout the Commonwealth, ensures compliance with acceptable practices pertaining to dam inspection, maintenance, operation and repair of dams.
Authority*(see note below): The current regulations, dated June 29, 2009, were promulgated in accordance with 2002 revisions of the Dam Safety Statute, MGL Chapter 253 §§ 44-50 , identify the responsibilities of dam owners to register, inspect, develop emergency action plans for high hazard potential dams and maintain dams in good operating condition. Amendments to Dam Safety Regulations Dam Safety Regulations became effective November 4, 2005 with minor clerical revisions in 2009 and are reflective of the 2002 statutory changes.
Dam Registration: In accordance with MGL Chapter 253, Section 45, and 302 CMR 10.05, dam owners must add their dam(s) to the public record by completing a Dam Registration Form provided by the Office of Dam Safety. Upon receipt of the completed Dam Registration Form the Office of Dam Safety issues a Dam Registration Certificate to dam owners. The dam owner must record the certificate at the applicable registry of deeds as an attachment to the record deed that describes the parcel where the dam is located and provide Dam Safety with a copy of the recorded certificate. When land ownership is transferred from one owner to another, a revised Dam Registration Form must be submitted to the Office of Dam Safety in a timely manner to initiate issuance of an updated Dam Registration Certificate which must be recorded. The details of the registration process can be viewed here online.
Dam Safety Inspection Requirements: The Office of Dam Safety has made available documents that can be downloaded here to serve as a template and guidelines for conducting compliant dam safety field inspections and filing compliant Dam Safety Phase 1 Inspection Reports with the Office of Dam Safety. Owners of dams are required by 302 CMR 10.07 to hire a qualified engineer to inspect and report results every 2 years for High Hazard Potential dams, every 5 years for Significant Hazard Potential dams and every 10 years for Low Hazard Potential dams.
Hazard Potential Classification
High Hazard Potential dam refers to dams located where failure will likely cause loss of life and serious damage to home(s), industrial or commercial facilities, important public utilities, main highway(s) or railroad(s).
Significant Hazard Potential dam refers to dams located where failure may cause loss of life and damage home(s), industrial or commercial facilities, secondary highway(s) or railroad(s) or cause interruption of use or service of relatively important facilities.
Low Hazard Potential dam refers to dams located where failure may cause minimal property damage to others. Loss of life is not expected.
Emergency Action Plans: MGL Chapter 253 and 302 CMR 10.00 requires that dam owners prepare, maintain and update Emergency Action Plans for all High Hazard Potential dams and certain Significant Hazard Potential dams. Follow this link for Information on Emergency Action Plans.
*It is noted that Dam Safety Law MGL Chapter 253 §§ 44-50 was recently revised by the Legislature and signed into law in January 2013. Prior to implementation of the legislated changes, regulations must be drafted, reviewed and promulgated. Draft regulations will be made available for public comment as part of the promulgation process.