Dam Safety & Security

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans dam safety evaluations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is preparing to conduct safety evaluations of its 233 dams and related water resources structures.

The work will involve contractors, who will perform Safety Evaluation of Existing Dams inspections for new dams; dams undergoing rehabilitation or modification; other hydraulic structures; and appurtenant facilities such as spillways, outlet works, and gates.

FWS plans to issue two indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts for one year, with four option years. FWS estimates this would involve a maximum per contract year of $4 million per contract.

FWS’ dam inventory includes zoned and homogenous earth embankment, gravity and arched concrete, and roller-compacted-concrete dams ranging from 6 feet to 103 feet high, with reservoirs ranging from 15 to 109,000 acre-feet.

Corps to install seepage barrier at 135-MW Center Hill

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proceeding with work needed to install a concrete seepage barrier at the main embankment of 135-MW Center Hill Dam on the Caney Fork River in Tennessee.

Center Hill has a history of seepage problems that have worsened in recent years. In February 2008, the Corps’ Nashville District awarded an $87.4 million contract to Kiewit—A.C.T. to install a grout curtain seepage barrier at the project.

The 250-foot-tall dam consists of a 1,382-foot-long concrete section and 778-foot-long earth embankment. The Corps plans to install a 900-foot-long concrete seepage barrier with a minimum 2-foot thickness, extending from elevation 696 mean sea level (msl) to 405 msl. The work is expected to cost $100 million to $250 million.

The barrier is to be installed through existing earthen embankment and underlying limestone foundation. Portions of the limestone foundation exhibit unconfined compressive strengths up to 32,230 pounds per square inch (psi), with a range of 5,000 psi to 32,230 psi. Therefore, the Corps prefers a combined wall of hydromill and circular pile elements.

Center Hill is among six dams the Corps identified as having a high risk of failure, in a screening program of 130 dams. In 2006, the Corps approved a $240 million rehabilitation plan to improve the dam’s long-term reliability by 2014.

Book available on dam-break problems and solutions

WIT Press announces availability of Dam-break Problems, Solutions and Case Studies.

To manage and minimize the risk of dam failure, it is necessary to identify hazards and vulnerabilities by understanding the causes that lead to dam failures, as well as the flow propagation process, say editors D. De Wrachien and S. Mambretti. Knowledge and advance scientific tools play a role of paramount importance in coping with flooding and other dam break problems. De Wrachien and Mambretti are with the State University of Milan in Italy.

This 368-page book covers:

— Practical aspects involved in dam failures;

— A range of laboratory tests and modeling techniques for dealing with shock waves and other disasters caused by dam failures;

— Dam break wave and flood routing;

— Dam break flow against obstacles and through river bed singularities;

— Dam break risk management and hazard mitigation;

— Economic evaluation of dams for flood protection; and

— Case histories to illustrate the topic of disaster management.

— To order the book for US$242, E-mail: dhalzack@witpress.com.

Corps to upgrade monitoring system at 402-MW Dworshak

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to upgrade the dam safety monitoring system at 402-MW Dworshak Dam in Idaho.

The three-unit Dworshak plant began generating electricity in 1973 on the Clearwater River.

Work to be performed at this plant includes replacing vibrating wire sensors inside the dam, installing new sensors and communication cabling and related hardware, upgrading or replacing the automated data acquisition system, supplying and commissioning of network-based data handling and presentation software, and minor civil works.

Data collected using the updated system will be used to monitor the stability and performance of the dam. This work is being performed as a result of the Dworshak Dam and Reservoir Interim Risk Reduction Measures Plan. This plan was developed after a Screening Portfolio Risk Assessment identified deficiencies.

For information, contact Jacob M. Shaw, (1) 509-527-7225; E-mail: jacob.m.shaw@usace.army.mil.

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Dam Safety & Security

Disaster resilience exercises performed in Washington State

Dozens of participants recently completed a series of exercises designed to develop a strategy to improve disaster resilience and preparedness in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland). Participants expect that this exercise-based approach can serve as an effective vehicle for developing integrated disaster resilience strategies for other regions in the U.S., says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS).

The exercise is part of the 2009 Dams Sector Exercise Series — Columbia River Basin (DSES-09). Participants include the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, DHS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and regional stakeholders.

DSES-09 efforts are based on a severe rain-on-snow scenario that affects a large portion of the Columbia River Basin and leads to significant flooding along the river. The flooding event leads to overtopping and subsequent breaching of levees in the Tri-Cities area. This poses emergency management and public safety challenges and affects several other critical infrastructure sectors, such as transportation and energy, DHS says.

The DSES-09 effort is organized into five tracks: modeling and mapping, pre-disaster operational response, state and local preparedness and emergency response, long-term restoration and economic resilience, and integrated regional strategy. Each track was conducted separately. The events follow the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, maintained by DHS. This is a performance-based exercise program that provides a standardized methodology and terminology for exercise design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning. The events include a concept and objectives meeting, a pre-exercise seminar, a tabletop exercise, and a follow-up after-action/strategy workshop.

In July 2009, participants held a state and local emergency preparedness/emergency response tabletop exercise in Pasco, Wash. More than 80 people representing 25 federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as the private sector, participated in the tabletop exercise. This exercise identified disaster management challenges in many areas, including emergency management organizational structure and decision-making process, public information, energy effects, transportation effects, and infrastructure interdependency-related effects on essential services.

In September 2009, participants held a long-term restoration/economic resilience tabletop exercise in Pasco. A total of 60 participants, including representatives of DHS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Corps, and other agencies, discussed long-term effects from a flood event in the Tri-Cities area. Participants also discussed actions to recover and restore infrastructure and essential services; transitioning from incident response to long-term regional restoration; federal, state, and private sector assistance; and potential prevention and mitigation measures.

The overall DSES-09 effort will culminate with the development of a regional disaster resilience and preparedness strategy for the Columbia River Basin.

— For more information regarding the exercise series, contact the Dams Sector-Specific Agency within DHS’ Office of Infrastructure Protection via e-mail: dams@dhs.gov.

ASDSO takes student paper competition into second year

For the second year, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) is holding its Student Paper Competition for college students.

ASDSO’s Committee on Education Outreach started the competition in 2009. For this competition, students are asked to submit papers on topics related to dam and levee safety, including engineering, geology, hydrology, hydraulics, environmental and agricultural sciences, design, construction, risk, hazard mitigation, emergency management, floods, floodplain management, case studies, security, and policy issues.

Winners of the 2010 competition will present their papers at Dam Safety 2010, ASDSO’S annual national conference, in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 19-23. In addition, up to $1,500 in prizes will be awarded. Winning papers will be published in the proceedings of Dam Safety 2010. And winners will be recognized at the Dam Safety 2010 awards banquet, in the ASDSO newsletter, and in the quarterly Journal of Dam Safety.

— For more information, visit the Internet: www.damsafety.org.

CDA names new board leadership, presents awards

The Canadian Dam Association (CDA) named new officers and directors and presented several awards at its annual conference, held in Whistler, British Columbia, in October 2009.

New officers and directors

Bill Duncan of Saskatchewan Watershed Authority was elected secretary treasurer. Duncan previously completed a one-year appointment to serve out the term of the previous secretary treasurer. Other officers, already serving, are:

    — Sayed Ismail, hydrotechnical specialist consultant, president;
    — Joe Farwell, Grand River Conservation Authority, vice president; and
    — Tony Bennett, Ontario Power Generation, immediate past president. 

Six new members of the board of directors are:

    — Karyn Wog of Alberta En-vironment;
    — Byron Keene of Quinte Conservation Authority;
    — Gilles Bourgeois of GENIVAR;
    — Andy Small of AMEC Earth & Environmental;
    — Greg Haist of Northwest Territories Power Corporation; and
    — Simon Cullum-Kenyon of Thurber Engineering Ltd.; 

Other members continuing on the board of directors include:

    — Charles Holder of BC Hydro;
    — Wayne Carlson of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada;
    — Caius Priscu of AMEC Earth & Environmental;
    — Ellis O’Neil of Nova Scotia Power Inc.;
    — E. Gerard Piercy of Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro; and
    — Johanne Bibeau of RSW Inc. 

Directors ending their terms are:

    — Chris Grapel of EBA Engineering Consultants; and
    — Ron Gee of Yukon Energy Corporation.


Wayne Phillips is the organization’s executive director.

Award winners

CDA presented awards in five categories.

— The Published Paper Award went to Vladimir Alicescu, Jean Pierre Tournier, and Pierre Vannobel for “Design and Construction of Nemiscau-1 Dam.” This paper was presented at CDA’s 2008 annual conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The award is offered to authors who prepare and publish an outstanding article or technical paper on dam-related issues in Canada.

— William Johnstone received the Student Award. Johnstone is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia. His research has centered on estimating and mitigating the risks to life safety and the environment as a result of operating decisions made at dams and hydropower projects. The award was created to encourage university students to consider careers in dam-related disciplines. The recipient receives a C$500 cash award and a CDA membership.

— The Peter Halliday Award for Service was presented to Andy Zielinski with Ontario Power Generation. Zielinski is co-chair of CDA’s Dam Safety Committee and represents CDA in his position as chair of the ICOLD Committee on Dam Safety. This annual award recognizes the efforts of members who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to CDA and who have made valued contributions to its advancement.

— Barry Hurndall received a Special Appreciation Award. Hurndall was a founding member of the CDA and the Canadian Dam Safety Association and served as CDA’s executive director from 2002 to 2009. In 1997, Hurndall received CDA’s highest recognition, the Inge Anderson Award, which is offered every two years to an individual who has contributed significantly to advancement of dam knowledge and practices in Canada.

— Tarek Hamade with McGill University and Kaley Crawford-Flett with the University of British Columbia received Gary Salmon Memorial Scholarship Awards. Hamade’s research focuses on risk quantification methods for the assessment of the stability of mine tailings dams. Crawford-Flett’s research focuses on improving the decision support tools for assessing internal erosion potential of till-core dams in Canada. This scholarship, awarded for the first time in 2009, is given to full-time post-graduate students attending a Canadian university or college whose program of study focuses on dam safety and/or the management of dams. Each recipient receives a C$5,000 award.

ASDSO names officers, presents awards

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) announced new officers and presented numerous awards during an awards banquet held at its annual conference in September 2009 in Hollywood, Fla.

New officers

David A. Gutierrez of California is the new president of ASDSO. Gutierrez took office during the 2009 annual meeting, succeeding Robert K. Martinez of Nevada, now immediate past president.

Also serving as 2009-2010 ASDSO officers are John H. Moyle of New Jersey (president-elect), Jason Campbell of Illinois (secretary), and Zahir (Bo) Bolourchi of Louisiana (treasurer).

Gutierrez is chief of the Division of Safety of Dams in the California Department of Water Resources. Moyle is manager of the Dam Safety Section in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Martinez is chief of Engineering & Dam Safety in the Nevada Division of Water Resources.

Two new members of the board of directors — Brian Long of West Virginia and Jonathan Kelsch of North Dakota — are taking the place of outgoing board members Mark Ogden of Ohio and James MacLellan of Mississippi.

Honorary members

ASDSO’s board of directors selected three new honorary members: Kenneth Hansen, Danny K. McCook, and Charles Pearre. Hansen is a nationally recognized author, lecturer, and consultant on roller-compacted concrete for dams. McCook is an independent consultant specializing in geotechnical review and design of earthen embankments and levees. Mr. Pearre retired in August 2009 as dam safety program manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Student awards

ASDSO also presented several student awards, including two scholarships and the winner of a student paper competition.

James Woidt, a University of New Hampshire senior undergraduate majoring in civil engineering, received the $7,500 Undergraduate Scholarship. He has assisted the New York State Department of Transportation with hydraulic vulnerability assessments and plans to concentrate on water resources in his senior year of study.

Vinoth Muthia, a senior undergraduate at Pennsylvania State University majoring in civil engineering and economics, received the $2,500 New Jersey-Pennsylvania Council for Safe Dams scholarship. He has interned with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Gannett Fleming.

ASDSO’s Committee on Education Outreach chose three winners for its first Student Paper Competition. The winners were Rachael Bisnett at Purdue University, David Judi at the University of Utah, and Abouzar Sadrekarimi at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The winners presented their papers at the annual conference and received a $500 prize.

Awards of merit

This year’s National Award of Merit was presented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Division of Dam Safety. In presenting the award, ASDSO cited FERC’s mission as a regulatory body and the high level of excellence exhibited by the dam safety team at FERC headquarters and FERC regional offices in carrying out this national regulatory program. In addition to honoring Dan Mahoney, director of the Division of Dam Safety, ASDSO recognized Frank Calcagno, senior engineering geologist; Bill Allerton, deputy director; and regional representatives Charles Wagner (Atlanta), Peggy Harding (Chicago), Peter Valeri (New York), Patrick Regan (Portland), and Ron Adhya (San Francisco).

Several regional awards of merit also were presented at the banquet.

The Ute Water Conservancy District in Grand Junction, Colo., received the West Region Award of Merit. ASDSO cited the conservancy district’s proactive maintenance of its dams to the highest standards and the completion of several dam safety projects in 2008 and 2009.

The Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission in Jackson, Miss., received the Southwest Region Award of Merit for its creation of the Mississippi Watershed Repair and Rehabilitation Cost Share. This state program provides funds for repairing and rehabilitating watershed dams and for matching funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Pennsylvania American Water in Mechanicsburg, Pa., received the Northeast Region Award of Merit. When the company assumed ownership of 64 dams and reservoirs that supply water to more than 2 million customers, 29 of these dams were classified as high hazard. Pennsylvania American Water immediately conducted detailed surveys of all the dams, including risk assessments and rehabilitation prioritizations of the high-hazard dams. The company has embarked on an aggressive program to upgrade its high-hazard dams.

Mia P. Kannik, P.E., with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Columbus received the Midwest Region Award of Merit. ASDSO’s Journal of Dam Safety annually publishes an article from each of the four regions. Kannik has coordinated the effort of promoting and writing technical articles from the Midwest region since the program’s inception.

Rehabilitation project of the year

ASDSO selected Lake Burnt Mills Dam, a high-hazard earth embankment dam built in 1942, as its 2009 rehabilitation project of the year. The city of Norfolk, Va., owns the dam, which impounds 10.300 acre-feet of water for Norfolk and adjacent communities. Hydrologic/hydraulic, geotechnical, and structural investigations and analyses identified several dam safety deficiencies. The most urgent deficiencies included the inability to safely pass the probable maximum flood, inadequate safety factor of the intake tower and training walls, severe deterioration of concrete below the waterline, and improper design for the spillway crest.

Remedial measures undertaken starting in 2006 included spillway and embankment modifications and low-level outlet replacement. The design and construction of these remedial measures successfully addressed the dam deficiencies and the requirement to maintain the use of the reservoir and to maintain dam safety during construction.

Special recognition

This year, the ASDSO board of directors unanimously agreed to formally recognize the work of the National Committee on Levee Safety. This committee is mandated by the National Levee Safety Act and led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In late 2008 and early 2009, the committee created the 104-page Report to Congress on Recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program.

Other awards

Darrel Temple, a national and international authority on the hydraulics of vegetated open channels, spillways, and earthen embankments, was awarded the Terry L. Hampton Medal. ASDSO’s Affiliate Member Advisory Committee established this medal in 2007 to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of hydrology and hydraulics.

Finally, the President’s Award was given to Michele Lemieux, P.E. This award is given to an individual or group who has assisted the president during his or her term in office. Lemieux, a civil engineer with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, serves on ASDSO’s Conference Planning Committee, Technical Training Committee, and Editorial Committee of the Journal of Dam Safety.

Corps to perform seismic mitigation work at Bonneville

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to perform seismic mitigation work on the Ambursen Section of 1,076.6-MW Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Columbia River in Oregon. This work is needed to reduce the risk of failure of this section of the dam during design seismic loading.

The work to be performed entails filling the north wall of the old navigation lock, referred to as the Ambursen Section, with concrete. Monoliths 20-25 of the old lock north wall are hollow sections. They are to be filled with concrete to form new gravity dam sections.

The work, which is valued at $5 million to $10 million, involves foundation preparation, concrete and gravel placement, control and treatment of seepage water, anchoring, and grouting.

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