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Emergency Action Plans

All dams classified or reclassified as high hazard potential and significant hazard potential shall have an Emergency Action Plan

Regulatory Requirements

On February 10, 2017 Massachusetts Dam Safety Regulations were modified to require owners of Significant Hazard Dams to prepare Emergency Action Plans (EAP) for their dams.  This requirement became effective on February 10, 2017 when the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), Office of Dam Safety (ODS) promulgated regulatory changes mandated by amended General Laws Part 1-Title II, Chapter 21, Section 65 (b)-Emergency Action Plans for high and significant hazard dams. 

302 CMR 10.11 Emergency Action Plans

All dams classified as High Hazard Potential and Significant Hazard Potential shall have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) submitted to the Commissioner and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.  All EAPs shall be updated annually and their format shall be in accordance with guidelines established by ODS which will be posted and updated on the ODS website. Approval to construct a new High Hazard Potential dam or Significant Hazard Potential dam shall be contingent upon the submission of an EAP to the Commissioner.  All EAPs are subject to approval by the Commissioner.

(1)    High Hazard Potential Dams.  High Hazard Potential EAPs shall, at a minimum, contain the following:

  • (a)   Identification of equipment, manpower and material available for implementation of the plan;
  • (b)  A notification procedure, including Flowchart, for informing the local emergency agencies;
  • (c)  A dam failure inundation map showing the stream which will be flooded, as well as the impacted downstream environment. The inundation map shall be developed by engineering modeling and methods subject to review by the Commissioner and shall display the timing and attenuation of the dam breach flood at strategic locations; and
  • (d)  A procedure for warning downstream residents if failure of the dam is imminent, and a listing of addresses and telephone numbers of downstream residents who may be affected by the failure of the dam.  If an automatic notification procedure is available within the town such as a reverse 911 or comparable alert system, this may augment or substitute for a traditional telephone list, subject to approval by the Commissioner.

(2)  Significant Hazard Potential Dams.  Significant Hazard Potential EAPs shall, at a minimum, contain the following:

  • (a) Identification of equipment, manpower and material available for implementation of the plan;
  • (b) A notification procedure, including Flowchart, for informing local emergency agencies
  • (c) A dam failure inundation map showing the stream which will be flooded as well as the impacted downstream environment. The inundation map shall be developed by engineering modeling and methods subject to review by the Commissioner and shall display the timing and attenuation of the dam breach flood at strategic locations;
    • (1) For Significant Hazard Potential Dams, an inundation map developed by engineering modeling and methods shall be required where, in the judgment of the dam owner's engineer or the Commissioner, more than several downstream interests are expected to be significantly impacted resulting from dam failure;
    • (2)  In the judgment of the dam owner's engineer, and subject to review by the Commissioner, a simplified inundation map may be allowed if there exists only one to several downstream interests that are expected to be significantly impacted by dam failure.  In such a case, engineering modeling and methods may be substituted with simpler methods such as engineering judgment considering FEMA flood plain maps, review of height of dam, volume in storage, breach discharge calculations, stream channel slope, topography, proximity of the identified several interests along the anticipated flood wave route. A simplified inundation map shall locate and annotate the several downstream interests that are expected to be impacted following dam failure.  An example of a setting where this paragraph may be applicable is a Significant Hazard Potential dam that carries a public roadway across the dam crest (that would collapse into a dam failure) and there are two or three occupied properties located downstream that are likely to be significantly impacted;
  • (d) A procedure for warning downstream residents if failure of the dam is imminent and a listing of addresses and telephone numbers of downstream residents who may be affected by the failure of the dam. If an automatic notification procedure is available within the town such as a reverse 911 or comparable alert system, this may augment or substitute for a traditional telephone list, subject to approval by the Commissioner.

(3) Prior to submission of an EAP to the Commissioner, the owner shall submit a copy of the proposed EAP to the local and state emergency agencies, and all local emergency coordinators involved in the plan for review. The owner shall submit with the EAP, recommendations received from said agencies and coordinators, if any.

(4) Annually, the owner shall review the EAP, update it and provide the updated EAP to all involved agencies for review. Any GIS based inundation map shapefiles are to be forwarded to ODS electronically along with their copy of the completed EAP.

(5) EAPs and annual updates shall be provided by the owner in both hard copy and electronic format to the Commissioner and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Available emergency action planning technical assistance and guidance information.

The Office of Dam Safety has available a library of information for dam owners pertaining to Emergency Action Plans. Staff are available to provide technical assistance and overview guidance on preparation, maintenance and updating emergency action plans.

Additional Resources for Regulatory Requirements

Hazard Reconsideration

An owner may at any time request the Commissioner to reconsider the hazard determination. The owner’s request must be filed by a registered professional civil engineer, specifying the findings and analyses with which the owner disagrees. The Commissioner will issue a written decision to the owner and the registered professional civil engineer within 30 days of receipt of a request for hazard reconsideration, and such decision shall be final and binding upon the parties.

Additional Resources for Hazard Reconsideration

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