Our Mission

The mission of the Branch of Safety of Dams (SOD) is to reduce the potential loss of human life and property damage caused by dam failure by making dams under the administration of the Bureau of Indian Affairs as safe as practically possible.

SOD endeavors to ensure that its dams are maintained in satisfactory condition on a long-term basis and to promote awareness and access to the beneficial uses achieved through public investments in SOD dam infrastructure.

Who We Serve

SOD administers dam safety activities for dams on Indian lands and coordinates with safety of dams officers at BIA regional offices and local agencies.

SOD currently administers nearly 150 high-hazard potential dams across the U.S. There are numerous additional significant-hazard potential, low-hazard potential, or unclassified dams on Tribal lands.

SOD manages its portfolio of dams using a risk-informed approach to implement actions at dams that present the greatest life-safety risk. The main goal is to protect downstream residents by reducing the likelihood of dam failure. This approach is a best practice adopted to develop balanced assessments of dams and to evaluate, prioritize, and justify dam safety decisions.

Services We Provide


About the Branch of Safety of Dams

The national inspection of dams by the U.S. Federal government began in 1972 with the National Dam Inspection Act (Public Law 92-367). Ongoing dam inspection was carried out by the Department of the Interior (DOI), with a 1978 memorandum of understanding creating a distinct SOD Program within the BIA to inspect and analyze BIA dams on trust land.

In 1994 the Congress passed the Indian Dams Safety Act (Public Law 103-302), which legislated the structure and scope of SOD. SOD currently operates under the authority of the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Dam Safety Federal Guidelines and DOI and BIA regulations.