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Governor ceremonially signs legislation to address safety of dams throughout state

STATE HOUSE — Gov. Daniel McKee ceremonially signed legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) that looks to improve the safety of dams throughout the state.

The legislation is the result of an annual report from the Department of Environmental Management on dam safety.

The first law (2022-S-2294) amends dam safety standards to require the State Building Code Standards Committee to take into account the effect of climate change on inundation areas below dams classified as high, significant, or low hazard.

“This addresses construction in inundation areas downstream from dams, and also is a good opportunity to educate people about those dams and the property damage that could result if that dam were to fail,” said Senator Sosnowski, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. “This would help property owners to think about how they would proceed with any construction in those areas.”

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The second law (2022-S-2295) authorizes the Department of Environmental Management to assess administrative penalties for failure to comply with emergency action plans relative to significant or high hazard dams and would mandate that the department and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency establish a notification system in the event of severe weather conditions consisting of dam advisories, dam watches and dam warnings.