Engineers work to reduce drowning deaths at low-head dams

No one builds a dam to kill people. Yet every year in the United States, more than four dozen people die as a result of relatively small, extremely common structures known as low-head dams. Capable of generating dangerous hydraulic conditions at certain flow levels, these types of dams have earned the ominous nickname “drowning machines” for their ability to trap and drown unsuspecting victims. In response, a coalition of civil engineers, academics, professional organizations, and regulatory agencies is working to raise public awareness about low-head dams and promote efforts to reduce the dangers associated with them.

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