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Owner responsible professional inspections

Dam inspection by consultants: Dam safety inspections that consulting engineers perform on behalf of dam owners will include file research, a visual inspection of the dam and documentation of the inspection.

Consulting engineers will need to complete the tasks indicated on the Consultant inspection process form [PDF] which should be submitted with every owner inspection.

  • File research – The owner or consultant can view the department’s historic file by contacting the water management engineer for the county in which the dam is located Staff directory.
  • Visual inspection - The visual inspection consists of four major tasks:
    • an inventory of the dam components;
    • a check for defects at the dam that affect the safety of the dam;
    • an evaluation of the land uses downstream of the dam; and
    • completing the Dam inspection checklist [PDF].
      • Use of the checklist will provide consistency for inspections and a more efficient and accessible review process. The checklist was designed to take into consideration the wide variety of dams in use in Wisconsin and covers all aspects of a dam inspection for which the department needs documentation.
  • Documentation  - A dam safety inspection report and supporting documentation will be prepared and sent to the department for review.

Preparation of inspection reports

  • What is it: The inspection report provides a summary of the inspection findings. It lists the defects identified for all parts of the dam. The consulting engineer includes recommendations for maintenance and repairs and provides a timeline for repairs or further investigation.
  • Timeline: Within 90 days of completing the inspection the consulting engineer, on behalf of the dam owner, shall submit an inspection report to the department for review and concurrence.
  • Narrative: As part of the inspection report, the consulting engineer shall submit a narrative that explains the findings of the inspection, in addition to the completed inspection checklist. The narrative will need to include a description of deficiencies and should also note the severity of the deficiency. For example, if seepage is noted, it is important to note whether this is new seepage, a change in seepage or seepage that has existed for a long time and doesn't pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the dam.
  • Repair guidelines: When preparing the timeline for repairs, the consulting engineer should utilize the DNR’s guidelines on Timeframes [PDF]. The consulting engineer must provide an actual due date. Note that every dam is unique and timelines will differ depending on its condition. The DNR may alter the due dates if it is deemed appropriate.
  • Documentation in report: Two hard copies and one electronic (PDF) copy shall be submitted. The following documents shall also be included with the report:

The inspection report and related documentation shall be submitted to the department’s water management engineer who covers the county where the dam is located Staff directory.

Contact information
DNR Dam Safety
DNR Dam Safety Program, WT/3
101 S Webster St
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707–7921