Then, on Sunday, May 31st, in Cowetta County, Georgia, a 50-year-old dam failed and the lake it held drained away - completely. Unfortunately, "Because the lake sits on private property, there isn’t much the county can do other than advise residents how to go about rebuilding the dam, a potentially costly task" ("Lake disappears after thunderstorms in Cowetta County," WSB-TV 2, June 3, 2015).
Despite the ACSE's warning, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked infrastructure improvement bills (see, e.g., my blog posts "Senior Republican on Infrastructure: 'The problem...is really more Republicans than Democrats'" and "As its infrastructure crumbles, West Virginia embraces anti-infrastructure Republicans").
A significant part of the problem is that a lot of dams are on private property and many of the landowners can't afford to repair or improve them. Making matters worse, many governments--having prioritized tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy over infrastructure work--can't afford to fix them either (see, e.g., my earlier blog post about the dam failure in Texas). And this is exactly the kind of problem where a new WPA could help because, back in the 1930s and early 1940s, the WPA worked on private property dams (see, e.g., Federal Works Agency, Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946, p. 53). And, with today's technology, we could do it even better.
Other New Deal work involving dams included: funding for large dams through the Public Works Administration; dams built in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority; and dams built in public parks & forests by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, many New Deal dams are still providing hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood control, erosion control, recreation opportunities, and drinking water for countless millions of Americans. And while there is certainly an argument to be made for the elimination of some dams (which a new WPA could do as well), many New Deal dams have provided useful service for three-quarters of a century.