College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Clemson Extension partnering on program to help maintain SC dams


In response to numerous dam failures that occurred across South Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, Clemson Cooperative Extension is partnering on a new program aimed at training dam owners to understand how to properly operate and maintain their dams.

In partnership with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Clemson Online, Extension’s Dam Ownership in South Carolina class assists every dam owner or operator with understanding the basic concepts to protect the integrity and benefit of their dam rather than becoming a nuisance, or worse — a safety risk.

“Dams play a vital role in life in South Carolina,” said Jill Stewart, director of DHEC’s Dam Safety & Stormwater Permitting Division. “They support the lakes we swim in, assist in the supply of water we drink and support the roads we drive on. It is critical that dam owners have the tools and knowledge necessary and this course we be an invaluable resource to help them.”

Back-to-back hurricanes in October 2015 and October 2016 resulted in 70 regulated dam failures statewide.

Clemson Water Resources Extension Agent Guinn Wallover said the need was recognized for training for dam owners to understand how to operate and maintain their dams to provide for the integrity of them.

“So, we partnered with to DHEC and NRCS — because DHEC manages the Dam and Reservoirs Safety Program and NRCS works with particularly a lot of agricultural ponds and dam owners — about doing a program. So, it’s been a collaborative effort between the agencies to develop a free, online class for dam owners — whether they’re a regulated dam or just a farmer with a pond and a dam, so it kind of protects the use of the pond and the integrity of the pond and dam itself,” she said.

The six-week, free, online class is available to the state’s thousands of dam owners and is self-paced and available at any time online.

“This online course will teach South Carolina dam owners the basics of dam design, inspection and maintenance techniques, how to develop a dam repair plan, and other topics,” Wallover said.

The Dam Ownership in South Carolina class is designed for owners of both unregulated dams and dams regulated by the SC DHEC Dam Safety Program.

Course content includes:
— Introduction to Dams and Their Function
— Parts of a Dam
— State Law and Regulations
— Inspections and Assessments
— Maintenance and Repair
— Special Considerations for Significant and High Hazard Dams

The classroom curriculum is offered through the virtual Clemson Online Canvas classroom and is self-paced.

Those interested may register here.

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