My intellectual problem here, is to wonder whether this is a legitimate improvement, or just something that looks good. It sounds like there is a major problem with economic externalities, which in this case covers the liability of a dam, with a cheap owner. The concept of private dams might not work when there are people living downstream, since it is very difficult to calculate how nasty one should be in turning the screws on the owner.
With all of this, they put on a nice gloss of dam monitoring. A good physics understanding of the system, with rain gauges would be sufficient here. After that, you really have to figure out the behaviour of each dam.