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NICAR will release data on U.S. dams after a decade-long hiatus

Next week the NICAR database library will release the National Inventory of Dams (NID), a database that has been inaccessible for over a decade. For years the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied its release (citing "national security" reasons) until recently when it was posted online in a publicly available searchable (but not downloadable) table. IRE and NICAR have gone to great lengths to acquire the full data and make it available for analysis. 


DOT FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System)

This database includes information for all accidents on public U.S. roads that resulted in a fatality, including crashes involving trucks, bicyclists and pedestrians. In October NICAR will release the data through 2013.

You can use these records to zero in on neglected and potentially dangerous dams in your area: The NID includes information on dams in all 50 states with details about dam structure, inspection dates, inspection frequency, primary purpose, and owner; it also includes latitude and longitude. In the past, newsrooms have used the data to produce stories on emergency preparednessaging infrastructure, and the effect of dams on the environment.

Although this newly released data is very valuable, the USACE is still withholding some crucial information, such as the city nearest to the dam and the hazard ranking of the dam. The hazard ranking indicates how bad it would be if a dam fails; a dam is ranked "high hazard" if people will likely die in that event. While the USACE will not release that information on an individual basis, they do provide the total number of high hazard dams by state. NICAR has compiled this information into a spreadsheet and will include it with the data.

Along with the most current data (from 2013) we will also include the 2002 version of the database which does include hazard ranking, as a starting point for further reporting.

To request immediate notification of when the data is posted, email You can also request more information or call Liz at (573) 882-1982. 

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