Dams Sector Chiefs:

Frank Parker & Patrick Norton

Sector Overview

There are approximately 160,000 public drinking water systems and more than 16,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment systems in the United States. Approximately 84 percent of the U.S. population receives their potable water from these drinking water systems, and more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has its sanitary sewerage treated by these wastewater systems.

The Water and Wastewater Systems Sector is vulnerable to a variety of attacks, including contamination with deadly agents, physical attacks such as the release of toxic gaseous chemicals and cyber attacks. If these attacks were realized, the result could be large numbers of illnesses or casualties and/or a denial of service that would also impact public health and economic vitality. Critical services such as firefighting and healthcare (hospitals), and other dependent and interdependent sectors, such as Energy, Food and Agriculture, and Transportation Systems, would suffer negative impacts from a denial of service in the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector.

Dams Subsector

The Dams subsector delivers critical water retention and control services in the United States, including hydroelectric power generation, municipal and industrial water supplies, agricultural irrigation, sediment and flood control, river navigation for inland bulk shipping, industrial waste management, and recreation. Its key services support multiple critical infrastructure sectors and industries. Dams subsector assets irrigate at least 10 percent of U.S. cropland, help protect more than 43 percent of the U.S. population from flooding, and generate about 60 percent of electricity in the Pacific Northwest.

There are more than 87,000 dams in the United States—approximately 65 percent are privately owned and approximately 77 percent are regulated by state dams safety offices. The Dams subsector has interdependencies with a wide range of other sectors, including:

  • Communications – Communications networks enable remote Dams subsector operations and control
  • Energy – Hydropower dams provide critical electricity resources and blackstart capabilities
  • Food and Agriculture – Dams subsector assets provide water for irrigation and protect farmland from flooding
  • Transportation Systems – Navigation lock systems in the Dams subsector enable all inland and intracoastal waterway freight movements. Major roads may traverse dams
  • Water – Dams subsector assets provide drinking water supplies and pumping capabilities.

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