Division of Safety of Dams

Ariel View

An aerial view of Perris Dam and Lake Perris. DWR/2014.

Since August 14, 1929, the State of California has regulated dams to prevent failure, safeguard life, and protect property. The California Water Code entrusts dam safety regulatory power to DWR, Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD). We provide oversight to the design, construction, and maintenance of over 1,200 jurisdictional sized dams in California.

We ensure dam safety by:

  • Reviewing and approving dam enlargements, repairs, alterations, and removals to ensure that the dam appurtenant structures are designed to meet minimum requirements.
  • Performing independent analyses to understand dam and appurtenant structures performance. These analyses can include structural, hydrologic, hydraulic, and geotechnical evaluations.
  • Overseeing construction to ensure work is being done in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.
  • Inspecting each dam on an annual basis to ensure it is safe, performing as intended, and is not developing issues. Roughly 1/3 of these inspections include in-depth instrumentation reviews of the dam surveillance network data.
  • Periodically reviewing the stability of dams and their major appurtenances in light of improved design approaches and requirements, as well as new findings regarding earthquake hazards and hydrologic estimates in California.

Information regarding the supervision of dams is provided here to better serve the public, dam owners, and applicants.

Statutes and Regulations

The complete Statutes and adopted Regulations pertaining to the California Dam Safety Program:


Regulations adopted by DWR

Annual Fees Regulations (Emergency Regulations adopted by DWR)

Inundation Map Regulations

FERC Engineering Guidelines for the Evaluation of Hydropower Projects, Ch. VI: Emergency Action Plans

FERC Engineering Guidelines for the Evaluation of Hydropower Projects, Ch. II: Selecting and Accommodating Inflow Design Floods for Dams

Current Practices of the Department of Water Resources in Supervision of Dams and Reservoirs

Dam owners should read the Responsibility and Liability brochure (PDF) prepared by the Association of State Dam and Safety Officials.

Dams within Jurisdiction of the State of California

Information about each jurisdictional dam was obtained from applications and plans submitted by owners, surveys, supplementary information acquired during inspections, and special studies. View the publications section below for more information.



Related Pages