When historic floods inundated Vermont earlier this month, many of the state’s 1,200 dams came under unfathomable pressure. Swollen rivers pressed against obsolete stone dams. Rising water tested modest earthen barriers holding back ponds for swimming or snowmaking. Water built up behind enormous concrete flood-control dams that protect millions of dollars of property, testing them to their limits. A full assessment of the damage to all dams in the state is underway. Inspectors have so far found more than two dozen high or significant-hazard dams with “defects” likely caused by the floods that will have to be repaired. Experts say it’s clear that more frequent, more intense rainstorms are pushing dams toward their breaking points.
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