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Owners of dams are responsible to participate in the safety of their dams by performing regular and frequent inspections.

Recurring inspections by owners (all dams)

The owner of a dam needs to inspect their dam on a regular basis and after any high-water event. The purpose is to look for changes that may indicate the need for repairs or even the existence of serious deficiencies that if left unaddressed could lead to failure of the dam. Detailed information on how to conduct recurring inspections can be found at Owner inspection.

Owner responsible professional inspections (large dams)

Chapter 31, Wis. Stats., requires owners of large dams to hire professional engineers with experience in dams to inspect their dams once every two to 10 years, depending on the hazard rating.

  • high–hazard large dams – every two years
  • significant hazard large dams – every three to four years
  • low-hazard large dams – every 10 years

The Inspection program fact sheet provides guidelines for the owner responsible inspection process. The Inspection program FAQs is designed to assist owners and operators answer basic questions regarding the inspections program.

The professional engineer responsible for the inspection of your dam needs to follow this process.

If you are unsure of your inspection schedule please check Individual dam search.

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