NJ Department of Environmental Protection Dam Safety Section
501 East State Street
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
Mail Code 501-01A
About Dam Safety
1912, the legislature of the State of New Jersey instituted
laws relating to the construction, repair, and inspection
of existing and proposed dam structures. The law was
amended in 1981 and became known as the Safe Dam Act.
New Jersey's Dam Safety program is administered by
DEP's Division of Engineering & Construction,
Dam Safety Section, under the rules and regulations
promulgated in May 1985 known as the Dam Safety Standards.
under State jurisdiction are artificial barriers,
together with appurtenant works that raise the waters
of a stream more than five feet above the usual
mean low water height.
primary goal of the program is to ensure the safety
and integrity of dams in New Jersey and, thereby,
protect people and property from the consequences
of dam failures. In the past 25 years, our nation
has experienced a number of dam failures that resulted
in the loss of life and extensive property damage.
New Jersey has not had the misfortune of experiencing
a catastrophic dam failure but there have been an
increasing number of small dam failures. This is
largely attributed to the lack of maintenance and
inspection as well as the fact that many of the
dams in the state are nearing the end of their design
and reservoirs provide numerous recreational opportunities,
wildlife habitat and scenic views to enhance enjoyment
of our natural surroundings. Water stored in these
impoundments serve our daily needs and satisfy the
requirements of business, industry and agriculture.
Too often, we take these valuable resources for
granted. Our lakes and reservoirs would not exist
without dams. When all of us begin to recognize
these concerns and responsibilities, the importance
of dam safety becomes obvious.
Dam Safety Section reviews plans and specifications
for the construction of new dams or for the alternation,
repair, or removal of existing dams and must grant
approval before the owner can proceed with construction.
Engineers from the Section evaluate each project,
investigate site conditions and check recommended
construction, engineers identify conditions that
may require design changes; check for compliance
with approved plans and specifications; and approve
foundations before material is placed.
dams are periodically inspected to assure that they
are adequately maintained and owners are directed
to correct any deficiencies found. The regulations
require the owner to obtain a professional engineer
to inspect their dams on a regular basis. These
investigations include a comprehensive review of
all pertinent material contained in the Department's
files, a visual inspection, technical studies when
necessary and the preparation of a comprehensive
Section also coordinates with the Division of State
Police, local and county emergency management officials
in the preparations and approval of Emergency Action
Plans. Since failure of a dam can take only hours
or minutes, it is imperative to have a detailed
emergency action plan ready for use.
specific information on dams in New Jersey please
contact the Dam Safety Section.
directions included on this web page you are about
to link to are to the main DEP building located
at 401 East State Street. We are located just down
the street at 501 East State Street at the corner
of East State Street and Clinton Ave. We are immediately
adjacent to the public garage as shown on the map.