Dam Safety Planning

The Dam Safety Planning Unit reviews and approves dam owners’ Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), required by Government Code section 8589.5. The EAPs are based upon inundation map(s) approved by the Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) and outline actions to be undertaken during an emergency in order to minimize or eliminate the potential loss of life and property damage. The EAPs must be updated at least every ten years, and in some cases sooner. The unit provides templates and technical assistance to dam owners writing/updating the EAPs and participates in their required annual notification exercises.

Emergency Action Plan Submission Deadlines


Hazard Classification Deadline
Extremely High January 1, 2018
High January 1, 2019
Significant January 1, 2021







Please submit one (1) hard copy and an electronic copy of your Emergency Action Plan to:

Electronic submission: 

Hard copy submission:


Tools for Dam Owners

Use FEMA’s Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Emergency Action Planning for Dams to assist and guide you in developing your EAPs. Cal OES is ready and willing to assist you through the EAP development process.


Outreach includes contacting each agency during the EAP development process to provide them the opportunity to review the EAP and provide feedback or confirm the wording in the EAP. During the outreach, the agencies will confirm their responsibilities, roles during the activation for example during evacuation, and will also confirm if they would like to be part of all sections for example High flowcharts or plan holders list.

At a minimum the following information should have been confirmed by the agencies:

• Contact information
• The notification flowcharts and which emergency levels they would like to be part of
• Responsibilities during the emergency
• The plan holders list and confirm they would like to be part of the list or if they would not
• Any other sections the agencies may be a part of. Examples include evacuation, assisting with access to the dam etc..

After all information is confirmed then it must be summarized in the EAP, it can be in a form of a chart, summary, or any other way that summarizes the information. You may also find an example in the fictional dam EAP Santa Luisa, Appendix I on our website.

Conducted outreach cannot exceed 2 years from the date of approval.

Note: Cal OES reserves the right to request documentation as proof of outreach. Examples include emails, written confirmation from an agency, or any other form of proof.

The agencies that are required are the following:

  • Office of Emergency Services (OES) / Emergency Manager for each impacted city and county
    • If there are unincorporated areas impacted that have an OES/Emergency Manager, then they must be included too.
  • Law Enforcement for each impacted city and county
    • If there are unincorporated areas impacted that have a Law Enforcement/Police Department then they must be included too.
  • Fire Department for each impacted city and county
    • If there are unincorporated areas impacted that have a Fire Department then they must be included too.
  • California Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams (DWR DSOD)
  • California Department of Water Resources Flood Operations Center (DWR FOC)
  • National Weather Service (NWS)
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) (if a major Hwy is impacted)
  • California department of transportation (Caltrans) (if a major Hwy is impacted)
  • Railroad Agency (if railroad tracks are impacted)
  • State Park Agencies (if they are impacted)
  • Downstream or upstream dam owners (it is not required to send a copy of the EAP, these are usually only included on the flowcharts and a couple of other sections)

For Dam Stakeholders

Message from the Division of Dam Safety, Department of Water Resources (June 2018)

The Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) has been developing regulations for inundation maps. Emergency regulations are currently in effect, and we are concurrently working on permanent regulations. We listened to your feedback over the last several months and made changes to improve the proposed permanent regulations.

Attached is the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that formally initiates the 45-day comment period for the proposed permanent regulations. It contains important details about how to access the documents and submit comments. The Notice is also posted on our website and the OAL Notice Register.

Since many dam owners are currently in the process of preparing maps, DSOD is taking the following steps:

    1. Proposed permanent regulations allow DSOD to approve maps that demonstrate substantial compliance – this means that maps prepared under the emergency regulations should be acceptable.
    2. Proposed permanent regulations are less prescriptive than the emergency regulations.
    3. Emergency regulations will be readopted when they expire next month (7/18/18) with some revisions.

If you have any questions about inundation map requirements or the rulemaking process, please contact Kristen Martin at MapRegs@water.ca.gov or (916) 227-2170.

DSOD – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (June 2018)

Message from the Division of Dam Safety, Department of Water Resources (November 2017)

Senate Bill 92 added Sections 6160 and 6161 to the Water Code that became effective on June 27, 2017, requiring owners of State regulated dams, except those classified as low hazard, to prepare EAPs containing inundation map(s) for emergency preparedness. On October 19, 2017, emergency regulations were adopted to provide standards for preparing and submitting maps to the DSOD for their review and approval. These regulations are available here.

Dam owners must submit EAPs to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) for approval by deadlines that are based on the dam’s downstream hazard classification. Dam owners received letters in July identifying their dam’s hazard classification and the statutory deadlines for EAPs as shown below:

    • Extremely high hazard dams: January 1, 2018
    • High hazard dams: January 1, 2019
    • Significant hazard dams: January 1, 2021

It is important to note that inundation maps must first be submitted to DSOD for review and approval, and only approved inundation maps should be contained within EAPs that are submitted to Cal OES for their approval.

Upon approval of the EAP by Cal OES, dam owners are responsible for ensuring that the approved EAP is disseminated to appropriate public safety and emergency management agencies, which includes DSOD. Thank you for your cooperation.

Dam Emergency Action Plan

Elements of an Emergency Action Plan

Elements of an Emergency Action Plan

Cal OES Emergency Action Plan Review Process

Emergency Action Plan Review Process

Emergency Action Plan Review Process

Owner Education Workshop: Inundation Maps and EAPs

Dam Owner Workshop (January 8, 2019)
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Dam Owner Workshop on inundation maps and Emergency Action Plans. We apologize for the technical difficulties that interrupted the live broadcast. You can view the entire workshop at this link: https://youtu.be/CZPvQ6yf-W0

The inundation map regulations referenced in the workshop are available at govt.westlaw.com.

DSOD and Cal OES have Frequently Asked Questions posted on their websites:
DSOD Inundation Map FAQs

Cal OES and DSOD hosted an Owner Education Workshop on January 30, 2018 to discuss new requirements for inundation maps and EAPs. The Workshop recording is below:

Tools and Resources

Dam EAPs

Division of Safety of Dams

    • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking_06.08.18
    • DSOD Contact Information June 2018


For information on what dam-related activities may be covered under the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program, please refer to FEMA’s Analyzing the Dam Failure Hazard in the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Program Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA).

A Guide to Public Alerts and Warnings for Dam and Levee Emergencies was created for the US Army Corps of Engineers Risk Management Center. This guidebook is for people involved with providing emergency messages and information to the public during times of impending flooding from dams and levees.

On January 30, 2018, DWR and Cal OES hosted an Owner Education Workshop about Inundation Maps and EAPs. You can find the workshop recording at https://youtu.be/_VYTeFcNIIs.


Inundation Mapping Information
For information on dam inundation mapping, please refer to the Division of Safety of Dams..

Funding Opportunities
Unfortunately, the legislature did not allocate any funds to help dam owners pay for inundation maps. Cal OES is administering several grants that may be applicable; for more information please email PDFM@pfwt.caloes.ca.gov or HMGP@pfwt.caloes.ca.gov.

Dam Safety Planning Inbox

Dam Safety Planning Inbox

California Department of Water Resources

California Department of Water Resources

Division of Safety of Dams

Phone: (916) 565-7868
Email: MapRegs@water.ca.gov
Email: DamSafety@water.ca.gov

Casey Meredith

Casey Meredith

Program Manager I, Dam Safety Planning

Office: (916) 845-8160
Email: Casey.Meredith@CalOES.ca.gov