ANDREWS, SC - OCTOBER 08: Buddy Benford pilots his boat past a home nearly submerged by flood water coming from the breached dams upstream as the water continues to reach areas in the eastern part of the state on October 8, 2015 in Andrews, South Carolina.  The state of South Carolina experienced record rainfall amounts over the weekend and officials expect the damage from the flooding waters to be in the billions of dollars.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle ANDREWS, SC - OCTOBER 08: Buddy Benford pilots his boat past a home nearly submerged by flood water coming from the breached dams upstream as the water continues to reach areas in the eastern part of the state on October 8, 2015 in Andrews, South Carolina. The state of South Carolina experienced record rainfall amounts over the weekend and officials expect the damage from the flooding waters to be in the billions of dollars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

An estimated 70% of America's 87,000 dams were built in 1970, and will be turning 50 in 2020. These damns are deteriorating and 4.6 billion that Congress wants to funnel into water projects will not be nearly enough, with the American Society of Civil Engineers predicting an investment of $3.3 billion being necessary to modernize infrastructure.

The funds received from Congress' proposed Water Resources Development Act would help to repair some publicly owned dams but most are private. Adding to the trouble, many of the aging dams can no longer handle the waters they were built to control.

John France, a dam and hydropower engineer at the consulting firm AECOM, explained that infrastructure repair is necessary due to the risks associated with high-hazard dam failing:

The need for good infrastructure was highlighted when much of South Carolina flooded in 2015, resulting in the deaths of 17 people and causing $12 billion in damage to property.

“South Carolina had 20 or 25 dams that failed because of heavy rainfall,” France said. “We were fortunate in that case that those dams happened to be low-hazard dams rather than high-hazard dams.”

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