Early in 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued new regulations requiring private dam owners to provide a mechanism for financial responsibility over their dams, in the event of a dam breach. The deadline for the financial responsibility tool was January 1, 2016. This new requirement was in addition to new registration and dam project fees in the thousands of dollars. For the many community associations throughout Pennsylvania that own a private dam, this meant that by January 1, 2016, the community needed to have surety or collateral bonds in place. However, it has been found that adequate insurance products are simply not available, requiring community associations in some cases to put up tens of thousands of dollars in bonds. These sums are simply beyond the financial ability of many community associations who depend on their lakes for recreational amenities for owners and visitors alike.
CAI has continued discussions on this issue over the last two years and is pleased to report that Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-189) has introduced House Bill 1712, which would establish the Private Dam Financial Assurance Program and the Private Dam Financial Assurance Fund. The program would offer financial assurance for the owners of private dams to meet the financial obligations imposed under the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act. According to the co-sponsor member issued by Rep. Brown, “The program is self-funded with dam owners paying a one-time registration fee of $1000 in addition to an annual fee equal to 1% of the bond amount required by DEP. In addition, as this fund grows to reach $1.5 million, DCED shall use it to establish a loan program to help these dam owners make necessary repairs to prevent breaching in the future.”
CAI’s Legislative Action Committee is in support of the Bill and will report on progress as the Bill works its way through the legislature. Visit our legislative page for more information including links to the House Co-Sponsor Memo and the bill text.