Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Infrastructure Report Card: Dams: "D"

(The Public Works Administration helped fund the Hoover Dam. The dam has been providing energy for three quarters of a century. Photo by Brent McKee.)

"The average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old...The number of deficient dams is estimated at more than 4,000, which includes 2,000 deficient high-hazard dams." So writes the American Society of Civil Engineers in their 2013 Infrastructure Report Card for America.

 (WPA laborers working on the Johnsons Pond Dam in Salisbury, Maryland, in 1936. The dam is still in operation today. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

During the Great Depression, New Deal funds and New Deal workers (CWA, CCC, WPA) built thousands of dams, of all sizes and uses. Today, we ignore the unemployed (or insult them) and let our infrastructure deteriorate. 

(Tygart Dam in West Virginia. Funded by the Public Works Administration. Photo by Brent McKee.)

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