National Flood Safety Awareness Week Begins Today

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Stephanie Lindloff, American Rivers, 518.482.2631
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202.347.7550 x3100

National Flood Safety Awareness Week Begins Today

Over $1 billion in stimulus funds available to remove unsafe, outdated dams to protect communities

WASHINGTON - As National Flood Safety Awareness Week kicks off
today, American Rivers called on recipients of federal stimulus funding
to eliminate a serious flood risk to many communities across the
country unsafe dams.  Communities and the environment benefit from the
removal of unsafe and obsolete dams.   

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes more than $1
billion that can be applied to removing these safety hazards.  The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is accepting such
proposals through April 6 (www.habitat.noaa.gov/recovery). 
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is also accepting
applications through March 27 for the Emergency Watershed
Protection-Floodplain Easement Program (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/).

American Rivers also called on the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service,
and Bureau of Land Management to wisely invest their Recovery funding
and achieve safer conditions and a healthier environment through dam
removal.

"While some dams are beneficial to society, many have outlived their
usefulness and the repairs and regular maintenance they require are an
economic drain on taxpayers," said Rebecca Wodder, president of
American Rivers. "Now more than ever we can't afford to waste money,
and dam removal is often the cheapest way to deal with a dam's safety,
economic, and environmental problems."

According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, there
are 10,213 high hazard potential dams across the United States that
would pose a threat to human life if they were to fail.  When these
dams do more harm than good, they should be removed. 

The challenges of flooding are not new, but today they are
unprecedented in scale.  The average cost of annual flood damages has
already tripled in the last century to a staggering $6 billion. 
Between global climate change-which will bring bigger storm surges and
more rain-and population growth, those damages will likely increase at
an even faster pace as human, economic, and environmental resources are
more and more taxed. 

Unfortunately, many of the measures taken to reduce flooding
actually exacerbate the problem. Dams and levees may temporarily reduce
local flooding, but river scientists agree destroying the natural
functions of healthy rivers and floodplains ultimately makes flooding
worse.  

In addition to improved public safety, communities that choose to
pull out obsolete dams can also benefit from better water quality,
revitalized fisheries, new recreational opportunities, increased real
estate values, and recovered land suitable for parks and other public
use.

For more than ten years, American Rivers has led a national effort
to restore rivers through removing dams that no longer make sense. This
effort has enabled a gradual shift in society's view of dams and
dramatically increased consideration of dam removal as a reasonable and
beneficial option for restoring rivers.

"When we tear down old infrastructure like obsolete dams, we build
up our natural infrastructure the streams, wetlands and floodplains
that give our communities essential services like clean water, flood
protection, and other economic benefits," added Wodder.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Flood
Safety Awareness Week is designed to educate people on the way floods
occur and what can be done to protect people and property.

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American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life.

Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.

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