|Effective October 1, 2021, the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Report will be amended to include a question relating to dams. (See Public Act 21-41) Sellers of residential property will now be required to disclose whether there is a dam on the property, and, if so, include a statement advising buyers that information relating to registration and categorization of the dam can be obtained from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The DEEP must be notified of a new owner of a property that has a dam (or any portion of a dam) on the property, and such notice must be sent by certified or registered mail within ten days of the conveyance.
There are more than 4,000 dams in Connecticut, and according to the Nature Conservancy, fewer than 300 of those dams are State-owned. Consequently, the onus is largely on private property owners to maintain the majority of dams found in Connecticut. Maintenance of a dam includes regular inspections by a licensed engineer every 2 to 10 years depending on the hazard rating of the dam. For instance, a Class A (low hazard) dam must be inspected every 10 years while a Class B (significant hazard) dam must be inspected every 5 years. A dam classified as Class C (high hazard) is inspected every 2 years. Owners of Class B and Class C dams are also required to file with the DEEP an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), which is created by a professional engineer and outlines the steps that will be taken, including evacuation plans, in the event of certain weather conditions or in situations where the dam could potentially fail. An EAP must be updated every two years and the cost for doing so can be thousands of dollars in addition to the cost of having a licensed engineer regularly inspect the dam. The property owner is also responsible for the cost of repairs that may be necessary to keep the dam functioning in accordance with DEEP safety regulations.
Currently, only owners of Class B and Class C dams are required to record a Notice of Significant Hazard Dam or High Hazard Dam on the land records. The revision to the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Report will ensure that purchasers are aware of the presence of, and responsibilities associated with, any type of dam on the property. For more information relating to dams in Connecticut and the obligations that may accompany the purchase of a residential property that has a dam on-site, please visit the DEEP website at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Water/Dams/Dams-Safety or contact a CATIC underwriter.