MDE’s Dam Safety Program ensures all dams in Maryland are designed, constructed, operated and maintained safely to prevent dam failures and the consequences of failure. MDE’s responsibilities include conducting inspections of dams based on their "hazard class," issuing permits for construction, repairs or for modifying dam structures; conducting construction inspections and working with dam owners and emergency management professionals to develop and exercise 'Emergency Action Plan' to be used in the event of dam failure. Fact Sheets on MDE's Dam Safety program may be downloaded below:
What is a Dam?
Hazard Classification of Dams
Dam Safety Division
Little Seneca Dam, pictured above, is an earth fill embankment dam that provides recreation and supplemental releases to the Potomac River during low flow conditions on the Potomac River.
A dam is defined as any obstruction, wall, or embankment, together with its abutments and appurtenant works, constructed for the purpose of storing water. Dams may be constructed of earth, concrete, wood or rock. Most dams in Maryland consist of an earthen embankment to store water and a combination of spillways designed to pass water safely around or through the facility.
Dams can provide many benefits for Maryland's citizens including water supply, flood control, hydroelectric power, fishing and recreation. However, dams can also be a great threat to the safety and well being of downstream property and people if they are not properly constructed or maintained. The State of Maryland has been assuring the safety of dams since 1934 through a permit and inspection program. The laws governing dam safety are administered by MDE’s Dam Safety Division.
There are over 500 dams in Maryland, ranging in height from six to 296 feet.
The majority of Maryland's dams are earth fill or earth and rock fill embankment dams such as Savage River Dam. There are also several large concrete and "slab and buttress" dams that provide storage for drinking water such as Liberty Dam, Prettyboy Dam and Brighton Dam.
For more information, you may contact our technical staff, as follows:
Hal VanAller, P.E., Division Chief
Visty Dalal, (Engineering Geologist)
Charlie Wallis, P.E. (Civil Engineer)
John Roche, P.E. (Geotechnical Engineer)
Anna Sobilo-Ryzner (Environmental Engineer)
Scott Bass, P.E., (Hydrology & Hydraulics Engineer)
Alex Shahvari, Ph.D., (Civil Engineer)
You may also call us at (410) 537-3538. Our mailing address is:
Dam Safety DivisionWater and Science AdministrationMaryland Department of the Environment1800 Washington Boulevard, Ste. 440Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230