Preparing and Responding to Events at Your Dam

The first call when a dam failure is imminent or in progress is 911.

In October of 2015 and 2016, South Carolina experienced tropical weather systems that severely impacted dams across the state. Dams are also susceptible to stress from heavy rains and high winds. Significant rainfall can overwhelm a dam's spillway. Dam owners are responsible for operating and maintaining their dams in a safe condition. As Hurricane Florence approaches, the Department encourages dam owners and operators to prepare and respond.


When a significant rainfall event or a storm carrying high winds are forecast, dam owners should:

  • Evaluate the water level in the pond/lake. Determine if water levels can be safely lowered to make room for incoming flows.
  • Coordinate releases of water with dam owners and/or property owners downstream.
  • Routinely clear debris from spillways.
  • Review your Emergency Action Plan
  • Keep alert! As the storm passes, watch for rising waters.


Once the storm event has passed and it is safe to assess your dam:

Please note that a permit is required to repair a dam regulated under the South Carolina Dams and Reservoir Safety Act and Regulations. If owners have questions on what activities may be considered repair, please contact Dam Safety Program staff at 803-898-1939.


Numerous resources are available to help dam owners prepare for potential incidents at dams. Below are links to a few:


If dam failure appears imminent, implement an Emergency Action Plan immediately and alert/call local emergency officials. You may find the officials for your county by visiting

Report any concerns or damage to DHEC Dam Safety Program staff 24-7 at 803-898-1939, or you may email


Dams & Reservoirs Environment