The state is back in the dam inspecting business, but it’s having trouble finding people to do the job. The state’s Dam Safety Program had to lay off two engineers with 40 years of experience because of budget cuts last year. Owners of the 640 private and government-owned dams in Missouri were told they would have to hire private professional engineers to do the inspections. But the Legislature has restored funding and Program Director Jim Alexander is trying to find two engineers – which is hard, given the technical nature of the work, the experience needed for new hires, and the relatively low salaries. He says it takes two to three years of training before an inspector is fully funcitonal. Alexander will have four engineers working with him when he gets back to full staff. Dams have to be inspected at least once every three years. Alexander says we do have a few problem dams – about of dozen of them that have been abandoned. One, the Silver Creek Dam near Rockaway Beach, is considered a serious threat although he says it is not in imminent danger of collapse. His office has not been able to determine who owns it. He says he has enough money to inspect it, but not enough to fix it.
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