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USDA Expands DamWatch Web App to Forest Service Dams

March 29, 2021 by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has entered into an interagency agreement with the Forest Service to add up to 600 of its dams to NRCS’s Nationwide DamWatch® system.

DamWatch is a web-based application developed to assist with monitoring and managing NRCS-assisted dams by providing real-time updates of rainfall, snowmelt, stream flow and seismic events that could affect dam safety.

“Adding Forest Service dams to the DamWatch application will help them maintain dam safety without the expense of developing their own application,” said NRCS Acting Chief Terry Cosby. “The system is easy to scale to include the additional dams and will help keep the public safe and protect infrastructure.”

NRCS has worked with U.S. Engineering, a private construction engineering company, since 2012 to customize its DamWatch web application to meet the needs of the approximately 12,000 NRCS project dam owners and sponsors. In addition to monitoring features, the Forest Service will have access to the structure management system that DamWatch provides for sharing essential dam safety documents such as emergency action plans, inspection reports and inundation maps.

“We are excited to partner with NRCS to safeguard our critical infrastructure,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “The DamWatch system will help secure clean drinking water, world-class water recreation opportunities and hydroelectric power for millions of rural and urban homes and businesses.”

DamWatch alerts essential personnel via email, fax or text message when dams experience one or more of the potentially hazardous monitored conditions.

This allows for timely and coordinated personnel and resource deployment while permitting NRCS, Forest Service and watershed project sponsors to respond quickly.

The application allows users to access important project dam information, including as-built plans, operation and maintenance agreements, emergency action plans, inundation maps, inspection reports, photos, videos and assessment reports in real-time emergency situations.

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