A dam good idea — making a lasting difference by investing in the infrastructure of our dams
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In New Hampshire and across our country, dams provide essential services, including flood control, drinking water, renewable energy, and irrigation. For the safety of our communities, to help combat climate change, and to strengthen our country’s energy future, dams must be maintained and operated safely and in an environmentally-friendly way, and we are focused on efforts to make that happen. 

Right now, through investing in the infrastructure of our dams, Congress has an opportunity to make a real and lasting difference. By focusing on dam maintenance and improvement and the removal of outdated or unusable dams, we can strengthen our water infrastructure and bolster the health of our nation’s rivers. And by investing in hydropower, which is often generated by dams, we can reduce our reliance on harmful carbon-based fuels. 

To help accomplish those goals, the historic bipartisan infrastructure package includes significant investments to rehabilitate some dams for safety, retrofit some for cleaner, greener power generation, and remove some for wildlife and natural resource conservation. We are also working to advance the Twenty First Century Dams Act, which builds on policies in the infrastructure package to support rehabilitation, retrofitting, and removal efforts. The bill incentivizes investments to reduce environmental impacts and improve generation efficiency, which will help ensure that hydropower continues to provide renewable energy for decades to come. 

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These kinds of investments can make a real difference. On New Hampshire’s South Branch of the Gale River, removal of an obsolete dam has restored river health, and access to 30 miles of brook trout habitat. Instances like this are why we have also advocated on behalf of Granite State communities to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit or remove dams that are obsolete or in dangerous condition, and have worked to secure federal funding for state dam safety programs, such as a new FEMA award that New Hampshire received in September to rehabilitate high-hazard dams in our state.

Given the importance of dams to the environmental, public safety, and hydropower communities, it is essential to move forward on investing in dams. Granite State dams are owned by private individuals, industry, and local, state, and federal governments, and each dam has a specific purpose and unique condition. We are committed to ensuring that dam owners and local residents have a voice and the resources to best address the upkeep of the dams in their communities. We will continue working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and with advocates for river conservation, dam safety, and hydropower to protect the environment and strengthen dam infrastructure.

Hassan is the junior senator from New Hampshire. Kuster represents the 2nd District of New Hampshire.