Bryant Measure Would Penalize Negligent Dam Owners

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant that would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remove any dam the Commissioner has concluded to be in eminent danger of failing, and charge the owner for the dam’s removal has been approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

“The flooding the State has experienced over the past year shows that there are a great deal of dams in need of repair, and many of the owners have been slacking on fixing the problem,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester. “By allowing the DEP to remove any dams that aren’t in compliance with their guidelines and charge the owners, we would be sending a clear message that we mean business and the dams must be repaired in order to reduce the chances of serious flooding.”

Senator Bryant’s measure, S-1895, would authorize the Commissioner of the DEP to require dam owners found to be in violation of the Safe Dam Act to comply with the law or face financial and legal penalties. The DEP would be permitted to remove or repair dams found posing a serious danger to local property. In cases of dam repair, the DEP would be permitted to charge dam owners for all repair costs. Purposeful violation of the Safe Dam Act would constitute a fourth degree crime, and carry penalties of up to 18 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

“Under current law, the DEP is only permitted to fine reckless dam owners up to $5,000. By strengthening the authority of the DEP, they can more actively pursue negligent dam owners and ensure that area dams are able to sustain increased amounts of water,” said Senator Bryant.

This measure was approved by the Senate on October 18. It now awaits a vote by the full Assembly.

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