Many of the dams in New Hampshire were built during the industrial revolution to support the region’s growing textiles industry and are now reaching an average age of about 100 years. Some of the dams in New Hampshire are 200 years old, making them some of the oldest engineered structures in the US.
While these dams have been repaired and renovated in that time, they still don’t necessarily meet current design standards. With the practice of dam safety engineering changing over the past 40 years, many of the dams don’t meet current standards, according to James W. Gallagher, Jr. P. E., Chief Engineer of the Dam Bureau in NHDES.
As well as facing increasing challenges, such as climate change leading to more extreme weather events, the body responsible for ensuring dam safety in New Hampshire has a staff of just 32 people.