May 31 is National Dam Safety Awareness Day. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources notes that this day was established to commemorate the 2,200 people who died in the 1889 South Fork Dam failure near Johnston, Pennsylvania. In the new era of extreme weather events, water retention dams are at high risk of failure.

Over two days in August 2018, four western Wisconsin counties were hammered by heavy rains that caused two dam failures and damaged five more dams. Vernon County got 10 inches of rain, destroying buildings, roads and bridges.