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Dam Safety & Security

Bill proposes grant program for dam repair, rehabilitation

Congress is considering legislation to establish a federal program for providing $200 million in grants for repair, rehabilitation, or removal of state and locally owned dams.

Reps. John Salazar, D-Colo., and Randy Kuhl, R-N.Y., introduced the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2007 (H.R. 1098) in February. The measure was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) and American Society of Civil Engineers support the legislation, which mirrors legislation introduced in the previous Congress.

If enacted, the new bill would establish a program within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund, over five years, the rehabilitation and repair of deficient dams. The measure would amend the National Dam Safety Program Act to create a public fund from which grants would be awarded.

The legislation calls for distribution of funds to state dam safety agencies based on the number of high-hazard publicly owned non-federal dams in the state. The federal government’s share of any grant provided to a state would not exceed 65 percent of the total cost of rehabilitation or repair.

The bill also would authorize Congress to appropriate money for the program: $10 million in fiscal year 2008, which begins Oct. 1, 2007; $15 million in FY2009, $25 million for FY2010, $50 million for FY2011, and $100 million for FY2012.

ASDSO estimates $36.2 billion is needed to rehabilitate all dams across the U.S., including repairs to publicly owned dams totaling $5.9 billion. ASDSO has said $10.1 billion is needed over 12 years to address the most critical dams, both public and private, that pose a direct risk to human life should they fail.

USSD names new officers, presents awards, scholarship

Officers for the U.S. Society on Dams (USSD) for 2007-2008 are: Kenneth A. Steele of the San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego, Calif., president; Daniel L. Johnson of GEI Consultants Inc., Centennial, Colo., vice president; and Daniel J. Hertel of Barnard Construction Company Inc., Bozeman, Mont., secretary-treasurer.

Board members re-elected for a second term are: Douglas D. Boyer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Portland, Ore., and Wayne D. Edwards, consultant, Novato, Calif. New board members are: Michael F. Rogers of MWH, San Diego, Calif., and Jerry W. Webb of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

New officers and board members were announced at USSD’s 2007 annual meeting and conference, held in March in Philadelphia, Pa.

During the meeting, USSD presented four awards:

– Award of Excellence in the Constructed Project to Pine Brook Dam, Colorado. USSD noted that during construction of the project, which is owned and operated by Pine Brook Water District, the design/build team achieved substantial cost, materials, and time savings. The dam, built to store water for municipal use, is a roller-compacted-concrete gravity structure about 85 feet tall, with a crest length of 600 feet. The USSD award recognized the owner, contracting company ASI Constructors Inc., and consulting company TCB.

– Scholarships to Nicholas Malasavage at Drexel University, Joshua Phillips at University of Kentucky, and Richard Coffman at University of Missouri. Coffman received a $10,000 scholarship that will support his doctoral research at the University of Missouri-Columbia, on the topic of Application of InSAR Remote Sensing for Performance Monitoring of Dams. Malasavage and Phillips each received $1,000.

– Outstanding Paper to Alan F. Rauch, Jeffrey S. Dingrando, and Thomas G. Pace with Fuller, Mossbarger, Scott and May (FMSM) Engineers and Robert E. Van Cleave II and Mark C. Harris with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their paper, “Seismic Risks to the Seepage Cutoff Wall at Clearwater Dam,” discusses how consideration of seismic hazards affected the design of a cutoff wall to reduce seepage through Clearwater Dam in southeastern Missouri, which is located near the New Madrid seismic zone.

– Lifetime Achievement Award to Richard W. Kramer of Arvada, Colo. Kramer, a consultant, was recognized for his achievements and expertise in geotechnical applications and specifically the field of embankment dam design, construction, and safety evaluations. Kramer has nearly 50 years of experience with dam planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, rehabilitation, safety inspections, peer review, teaching, and advisory services. Kramer spent 30 years working for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, where he served as chief of the dams design branch and senior technical specialist for the embankment dams and geotechnical engineering branch.

– President’s Award to Constantine G. (Gus) Tjoumas of Ellicott City, Md. This newly created award, presented by 2006-2007 USSD president Ronnie M. Lemons, recognizes Tjoumas’ many contributions to USSD, including serving two terms on the board of directors, serving as vice president, and charing the Committee on Dam Safety and Dam Security. Tjoumas recently retired from his position as director of the Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, Office of Energy Projects, FERC.

BC Hydro completes Coquitlam backup dam

Construction of a new backup dam immediately downstream of BC Hydro’s Coquitlam Dam is complete. JJM Construction Ltd., a civil contractor in the province of British Columbia, built the new dam, under a C$25 million (US$21.7 million) contract.

Construction of the backup dam was part of a seismic upgrade of Coquitlam Dam, a 31-meter-tall earthfill structure built in 1913.

The dam is on the Coquitlam River, 30 kilometers north of Vancouver. It impounds water for BC Hydro’s 73-MW Buntzen hydro project.

BC Hydro pursued the upgrade after discovering a zone of loose fill within the existing dam that could liquefy during a moderate or large earthquake.

Assessment tool available for evaluating security risks

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) offers a tool for evaluating security and vulnerability risk at dams. The tool, Dam Assessment Matrix for Security and Vulnerability Risk (DAMSVR), is available to dam owners, industry professionals, and security specialists upon request.

DAMSVR, best described as a risk assessment method, can be used to assess security-related risks at a dam and to identify areas of vulnerability.

FERC, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Association of State Dam Safety Officials, and Security Management Solutions (formerly Foos Associates LLC) collaborated to develop the tool.

To request DAMSVR, visit the Internet at: www.ferc.gov, choose links to “Industries,” “Hydropower,” “Safety & Inspections,” and “Regulations, Guidelines and Manuals.” The address is www. ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/safety/ guidelines/security/damsvr-req.asp.

While DAMSVR has not required updating since its original release in 2003, FERC said it did anticipate making a minor revision to the assessment in 2007.

Documents provide guidance for dam O&M, hydrologics

New documents published by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provide guidance to dam owners on the subjects of operations and maintenance, and hydrologics and hydraulics.

Guidelines for Operation and Maintenance of Dams in Texas covers the mechanics of dam safety as well as broad legal and societal issues. It includes chapters on: hazards, risks, and failures; developing a safety program; inspections; instrumentation and monitoring; maintenance; emergency action plans; operations; and reducing the consequences of dam failure.

The document’s appendices include inspection reports, report forms, and Texas Parks and Wildlife’s recommendations on herbicide use to control vegetation on earthen dams.

The second document, Hydrologic and Hydraulic Guidelines for Dams in Texas, includes chapters on submitting reports and dam classification. Other chapters on determining aspects of the design flood cover precipitation, runoff calculations, and routing methodologies.

The publication also offers guidance on dam-breach analyses, and risk assessment and classification of hazard potential. It features an appendix with information sheets on existing dams, and proposed new construction modification, repair, alteration, or removal of a dam.

The O&M publication (number GI-357) and the hydrologic and hydraulic guidelines (number GI-364) both are available on the TCEQ website: www. tceq.state.tx.us.

TCEQ previously prepared guidelines to assist dam owners considering dam removal. That document, Dam Removal Guidelines, outlines questions to consider, and steps and procedures. (See “Dam Safety & Security,” Hydro Review, March 2007.)


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