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  • Dick Harpootlian

Dam Bill Update

On March 14, 2019, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee met to take up Senate Bill 107, which the sponsors have termed a “dam safety bill.” Unfortunately, the bill will have the opposite impact – it would  remove any safety oversight from one third of all dams in our State.

For those of us who remember the 2015 floods that ravaged Columbia and communities all over our state, you will remember that the loss of life and property was exacerbated by a cascading series of private dam failures. These dam failures caused millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure. Some homes and businesses are yet to be rebuilt. We have since learned that many of these failed dams were not properly maintained by their private owners or adequately monitored by state regulators.

Accordingly, I could not in good conscience vote for S. Bill 107 and was proud that my colleagues Ronnie Sabb (Williamsburg) and Scott Talley (Spartanburg) also voted no. Unfortunately, this bill was voted out of committee without any serious amendment to address public safety for communities living downstream.

However, the fight isn’t over yet. Once the bill reached the floor of the Senate, I put it on the contested calendar to ensure we have a real debate about dam safety before the full Senate votes. It has since been recommited to the Senate Finance Committee where I hope serious revisions will take place before it comes back to the floor for a full vote. 

I am deeply concerned that S. Bill 107 is a special interest giveaway that will make us less safe and all but ensures that the devastation Columbia felt in October 2015 becomes common throughout or State.

I plan to do everything in my power to stop this bill from passing without a serious rewriting that improves dam safety, not undermines it.  

If you are interested in helping stop this bill or have a story to share about the 2015 floods, please let me hear from you by emailing me at


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