Dams & Water

Dams Lakes, Ponds, & Streams Moving Water

DCNR is responsible for operating and maintaining 131 dams, including 47 high hazard dams.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), high hazard dams are those where failure or mis-operation will likely result in the loss of human life and significant property damage. DCNR owns and operates more high hazard dams that any other single public or private dam owner in Pennsylvania.


As dams age, problems develop.

Most of DCNR’s dams are more than 50 years old. Concrete control towers and spillways crack and deteriorate, exposed reinforcing steel rusts and weakens, increased seepage causes internal erosion of earthen embankments, outlet gates leak, and gate operators wear out. Each year, costly repairs are needed. A single dam rehabilitation project may cost $10 million or more. To keep them in operation and in compliance with specific regulatory and public safety requirements, DCNR’s dams must be routinely inspected and properly repaired and upgraded.


DCNR dams that do not meet dam safety standards must be drained and repaired.

This interferes with any recreation that might have otherwise occurred on the lake. Visitors go elsewhere, and the economic benefits to that community are reduced or eliminated altogether.


Some dams still in operation are at risk of breaching with a large rain event.

Heavy rains could cause destruction and flooding for many communities downstream, as well as create water quality issues from the amount of silt and other pollutants that have built up behind the dam over the years.


Each dam removal project may cost $5-10 million

There are several state park and state forest dams in extreme disrepair that DCNR must breach and remove because the structures are beyond repair and threaten public safety.

To remove the dam, we must remove accumulated sediment in the reservoir area and dispose of the dam components and sediment.


131 dams

are managed by the DCNR in the state of Pennsylvania

47 dams

across Pennsylvania are considered “high hazard”

$10 million

The estimated cost to rehabilitate a single dam

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The Problem

Explore the extent of the problems we face and what it means for our communities and residents across our commonwealth.