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Dam Safety Bureau

Dam Safety Bureau

The Dam Safety Bureau ensures that dams in New Mexico are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained as safely as possible. Dams that equal or exceed 25 feet in height, which exceed 15 acre-feet of storage or dams that equal or exceed 50 acre-feet storage, which equal or exceed 6 feet in height are under the jurisdiction of the State Engineer. Of the more than 600 dams in the state, nearly 300 dams have jurisdictional status.

Costilla DamThe responsibilities of the Dam Safety Bureau include inspecting existing dams to verify they are operated and maintained in a safe condition. The bureau reviews plans and specifications for new dams and modifications and repairs to existing dams to ensure compliance with State Engineer design criteria.  The bureau also inspects construction to verify that dams are built or repaired in accordance with approved plans on file with the State Engineer.

Persons or entities who plan to construct a new dam or modify an existing dam must obtain approval from the Dam Safety Bureau.

Dams that have the potential to cause loss of life during a failure or potential to damage property and lifeline infrastructure are required to prepare and exercise an emergency action plan.  The Dam Safety Bureau reviews these plans for completeness.  Proper maintenance of dams is an important part of responsible dam ownership.  The bureau reviews Operations and Maintenance Manuals for dams that are required to prepare and use a manual.

Information about dams for the general public and dam owners

Western Dam Engineering Technical Note

A Quarterly Publication for Dam Safety Engineers and Dam Owners