Dams and dam safety
Water storage dams in Finland have been constructed to prevent floods, to produce hydropower, to improve water supply, and to create artificial lakes for fish farming or recreational activities. Flood banks protect particularly low-lying farmland and residential areas. Submerged weirs have been built across some rivers to ensure that certain stretches of riverbed will remain underwater even during the driest periods.
Waste dams prevent harmful liquid or solid wastes from contaminating the ground or water near industrial sites. Tailings dams constructed in connection with mining and ore enrichment activities store liquid or solid material contaminated with mining and metallurgical wastes.
Ensuring that dams are safe
The emphasis of Finnish dam safety measures is on the prevention of dam accidents and on the effective reduction of hazards should it not be possible to prevent such accidents. The legislation makes the owners of dams responsible for the safety of their dams. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) officially supervise all aspects of dam safety, except emergency and rescue procedures which come under rescue authorities. Häme ELY and Kainuu ELY carry out development work on dam safety.
Some 500 dams in Finland are covered by dam safety legislation. Special emergency action plans have been drawn up for important dams whose failure could endanger lives, health, property or the environment.