State dam inspector Tony Fletcher said he can inspect the state’s dams all year long.

“Yes the rugby season is a good time to inspect dams. Inspections can also be done in spring, fall and winter,” Fletcher wrote in an email to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. “I plan to inspect … dams next week from Sunday to Saturday and it should go well.”

Fletcher wrote that he doesn’t keep track of how often he uses a state vehicle to travel to rugby practice.

“I do use my car as much as possible,” he said.

“You asked why I did not do the 29.25 inspections legally required per year. To this rate of inspection, the law requires that 500 low hazard dams be inspected for hazard every 6 years – or 83.3 inspections per year, amounting to 110 inspections a
year,” Fletcher wrote.

“Then one must take into account admin costs, the upkeep of both the State and FERC  (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) databases and EAP’s (Emergency Action Plans) and training and travel. The latter is a most significant item to the general wear and tear of a human. Most private businesses operate at an efficiency of 40 percent or less when one takes all the other admin tasks into account to run that business. We are no different.”

At a legislative hearing in September, lawmakers responded to a statement by Fletcher’s boss that it was “virtually impossible” to do all the required engineering  inspections of the state’s potentially hazardous dams by requesting that Fletcher and his staff at least conduct visual inspections of those dams.

Fletcher wrote that, “We are currently working flat out doing the 100 or so … dam general condition inspections for the legislature. We have currently done about 20 so far.”

“I believe we in MEMA are competent to carry out the dam safety for the state. Two full-time administrative assistants and another engineer would go a long way to getting to our target. The real problem is the incessant travelling,” Fletcher wrote.