South Carolina’s thousands of dams are used to establish ponds, lakes, and reservoirs that provide flood management, hydropower, drinking or irrigation water, recreation, and wildlife habitat. For many of us, the dam that helps form our backyard fishing pond supports Saturday afternoon fishing with the kids. To protect the integrity of your dam and the benefits of your pond to you as the pond owner (like that trophy bass habitat!), you should plan to perform regular inspection and maintenance of your dam.
Walk your dam and inspect the slopes, control structure, and spillway semi-annually and after heavy storm events. Use the Dam Owner Assessment Checklist for Earthen Embankment Dams as a guide. If you note deficiencies, follow recommended actions to keep small, needed repairs from turning into dangerous and expensive dam failures. Be prepared for regular maintenance, too. Deterring nuisance aquatic plants on shorelines and at the spillways, removing small woody growth, and having a good grass cover on slopes will be typical maintenance tasks. A few resources through our Home and Garden Information Center can help you tackle these vegetation control needs.
For dams regulated by the SC Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act, coordinate with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Dam Safety Program when repairs are needed.
Want to learn more? Clemson Extension has partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer a free, virtual dam ownership class to dam owners in South Carolina. Visit Clemson.edu/dams for more info.