Definition of a Dam

A "dam" is an artificial barrier or obstruction that impounds, or will impound, water.  "Water" means any liquid, including any solids or other matter which may be contained therein, which is or may be impounded by a dam.

The Dam Control and Safety Act (W.Va. Code 22-14-3(f) establishes that regulated dams must be either:

- 25 feet or more in height and impound 15 or more acre-feet (4,917,420 gallons) of water volume

- 6 feet or more in height and impound 50 or more acre-feet (16,391,400 gallons) of water volume

The height of the dam is the vertical distance from the natural streambed at the downstream toe of the dam to the crest.  The height of dams with sloping crests shall be determined by a weighted average height above the natural bed of the stream or watercourse, excluding spillways.  Water volume is measured to the crest of the dam, not to the normal reservoir level.

Exemptions from state jurisdiction include the following:

- Dams owned by the Federal Government
- Dams that do not normally impound water, such as road fills with culverts sized to WVDOH standards
- Dams built primarily for agricultural purposes and demonstrated to not cause loss of life if the dam fails

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the definition.

Definition of a Dam