Dam and Reservoir Safety Program fact sheet
Missouri Geological Survey Director: Joe Gillman, RG
PUB1351

I want to build a dam for a fishing lake. Do I have to get a permit?

If your dam will be 35 feet or greater in height, you may be required to obtain a construction permit from the Dam Safety Program prior to start of construction. You should contact the program staff prior to building a dam.

I recently bought property that has an existing dam. The dam seems taller than 35 feet. Am I in violation of the law, and what should I do?

You should immediately contact the Dam Safety Program. We will send a survey crew to measure the height of the dam to determine if it is 35 feet or higher. If it is, we will instruct you on how to obtain a permit for the dam. You will be required to complete most of the same steps that would be necessary if you were constructing the dam yourself.

I own a dam that is regulated by the Missouri Dam and Reservoir Safety Council and have a valid permit. However, additional homes have recently been built downstream of my dam. Will I be required to upgrade my dam to meet more stringent requirements?

Possibly. There are three downstream hazard classifications: Class I applies to high hazard dams; Class 2 to intermediate hazard dams; and Class 3 to low hazard dams. If your dam is permitted as a Class 1 dam, you will not be required to make further modifications. If your dam is a Class 2 or Class 3 dam, Dam Safety Program staff will visit your dam and make a judgment regarding whether or not the new development downstream warrants changing your downstream hazard classification to a higher class.

I don't agree with the findings of the Water Resources Center staff. What can I do?

A dam owner has the right to appeal all decisions made by the Dam Safety Program staff to the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council at one of its quarterly meetings. The Dam and Reservoir Safety Council is a seven-member panel appointed by the governor. If you wish to appeal, contact the staff, and we will advise you of the time and location of the next council meeting.


Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.


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