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Dam Safety & Security

Congress approves funds for repairs to Wolf Creek Dam

An omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama includes $54.55 million to continue dam safety repairs to 270-MW Wolf Creek Dam at Jamestown, Ky.

The Corps previously identified the earthfill and concrete gravity dam as being critically near failure or having extremely high life or economic risk.

Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said he secured the dam safety funds, plus another $314,000 to make recreational improvements to Wolf Creek’s reservoir, Lake Cumberland.

Rogers, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the $54.55 million would go to the Wolf Creek Dam Seepage Rehabilitation Project, already in progress. He said the remaining $314,000 would be used to make improvements to degraded Lake Cumberland structures.

The Corps awarded a $341.4 million construction contract for a 4,200-foot-long concrete seepage barrier at Wolf Creek to Treviicos Soletanche JV of Boston in 2008. The cutoff wall is the primary element of the seepage rehabilitation project. It is to be built deep into foundation rock beneath the 5,736-foot-long, 258-foot-tall dam to stop seepage. Work began in fall 2008; the contract performance period is four years.

Treviicos Soletanche is installing instrumentation and working toward completion of upstream and downstream grout lines for the cutoff wall. Sixty-six piezometers have been automated, providing real-time data so managers can closely monitor that area of the dam involving invasive construction activities, the Corps said. A number of subcontractors are at the site, including Boart Longyear, Pyles Bristol, and Weddle Construction.

U.S. Dams Inventory on new website

The National Inventory of Dams (NID) database now is available on a new website, https://nid.usace.army.mil.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the database, chose the new website to implement an enhanced level of security, says Rebecca Ragon, NID program manager. Ragon says the site also enables the agency to take full advantage of CorpsMap, an existing web mapping application.

The NID database contains information on 82,642 U.S. dams. This information was submitted by states, Puerto Rico, and 18 federal offices. For specifics about the information in the NID, see “National Inventory of Dams: A Wealth of Information,” by Anthony R. Niles and Rebecca M. Ragon in Hydro Review, pages 42-43, September 2006.

Ragon says plans call for the database to be updated in September 2009 with data collected in 2008.

To query the database, users must request a user name and password from the NID Login tab. As the database is on a secure site (https), all users also must accept a U.S. Department of Defense certificate before entering the website. Once logged into the NID site, users can query the 2007 NID through a feature called the interactive report.

Users who choose not to request a user name and password still can see summary charts and graphs of the dams in the database, displayed either nationally or by state.

The NID consists of dams meeting at least one of the following criteria:

– High hazard classification, where the loss of one human life is likely if the dam were to fail;

– Significant hazard classification, where there is possible loss of human life and likely significant property or environmental destruction;

– 25 or more feet in height with storage of at least 15 acre-feet; and

– 6 or more feet in height with storage of at least 50 acre-feet.

The database contains 54 data fields about the physical and regulatory aspects of dams, including three restricted fields available only to government users: hazard potential classification; nearest city; and distance to nearest city. Government users also can download data from the database.

An interactive map allows users to see the dams on several base maps (i.e., terrain, satellite, streets). Map layers such as cities, federal lands, congressional districts, and Environmental Protection Agency regions can be added.

Future map enhancements planned for 2009 include more layers and plotting of query results from the interactive report onto the map, Ragon said.

Corps center to manage dam risk assessments

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is establishing a Dam Safety Risk Management Center (RMC). Center personnel will lead, manage, and execute the risk engineering aspects of the Corps’ dam safety programs.

The center is a collaborative effort between the Corps’ Headquarters Dam and Levee Safety Programs and the Institute for Water Resources (IWR). Headquarters Dam and Levee Safety Programs are agency-wide safety programs developed to manage the reliability and risk posed by Corps-built infrastructure. IWR is the strategic and academic arm of the Corps’ Civil Works program.

The Corps says it is modeling the new center after its Hydrologic Engineering Center in Davis, Calif.

RMC activities initially will focus on dams and eventually will expand to levees and other infrastructure, Corps Civil Works Director Steven Stockton said. The Corps is responsible for about 600 dams.

Once a center director is named, the RMC will begin operations. Its staff will develop, deploy, train, oversee, and manage risk assessments and activities related to assurance of reliable, safe infrastructure. Stockton said the center is expected to forge a strong relationship with academia to advance mutual interests.

Handbook provides measures to protect dams

A new handbook presents information dam owners and operators can use to develop security plans and to select measures for providing physical, cyber, and human security at dams.

The Dams Government Coordinating Council, Dams Sector Coordinating Council, and the Dams Sector-Specific Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed the publication Dams Sector Protective Measures Handbook: A Guide for Owners and Operators.

The handbook is a “For Official Use Only” document and therefore is available only through the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). The network is an Internet-based information-sharing network that allows sector partners to collect and disseminate information between federal, state, local agencies, and the private sector.

Access to HSIN is provided to dams sector partners, including dam owners and operators, trade associations, government agencies, and sector organizations. The DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection states all requests for access to HSIN must be e-mailed to: dams@dhs.gov.

Dam safety course workbooks released on DVD

Workbooks for the “Training Aids for Dam Safety (TADS): A Self-Instructional Study Course in Dam Safety Practices” are now available in DVD format from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The training course consists of 21 modules for use by engineers, technicians, dam owners, and water resource managers.

While workbooks for each module have been available in printed format for many years, they are only now available in DVD format. Costs for printed materials totaled as much as $1,500; the DVD is available at no charge.

TADS materials are presented in a simple format. Nine of the 21 modules feature videos to reinforce the text; the videos are included in the DVD. Completion of most modules does not depend on completion of other modules.

TADS can keep training costs to a minimum by eliminating travel, facility, and instructor costs, FEMA said. Although designed as self-instructional materials, TADS modules also can be used for group instruction.

The TADS modules are organized into three components:

– Dam Safety Inspection: ten modules designed for engineers with little or no inspection experience and for technicians with some familiarity with dams;

– Dam Safety Awareness, Organization, and Implementation: five modules designed primarily for dam owners and operators, including a module on how to develop and implement an emergency action plan; and

– Data Review, Investigation, Analysis, and Remedial Actions for Dam Safety: modules for dam safety program managers, dam owners and operators, and experienced engineers.

Copies of “Training Aids for Dam Safety: A Self-Instructional Study Course in Dam Safety Practices” (FEMA 609DVD) are available from FEMA’s Publications Warehouse by calling (1) 800-480-2520, or sending a fax to (1) 301-362-5335.

Federal agencies represented on the National Interagency Committee on Dam Safety endorsed the TADS program when it was in the proposal stage and underwrote the cost of development.

Security boom protects 207-MW Saluda

A security boom across the Lower Saluda River downstream from South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.’s (SCE&G) 207-MW Saluda powerhouse restricts public access within 500 yards of the project, in Lexington County, South Carolina.

Worthington Products Inc. installed the boom. The restricted area is part of the federal department’s Buffer Zone Protection Plan, which protects U.S. dams, chemical facilities, and nuclear plants.

“This is yet another measure of protection for our facility,” SCE&G Security Director Ronnie Goebel said. “The security boom restricts access to about 500 yards of river that may have been popular with a handful of avid fisherman. While that’s unfortunate, we agree with Homeland Security that making our facilities safe and secure is paramount.”

South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources noted the boom is clearly marked with signs and buoys. The state added that anyone entering the restricted area could be subject to arrest for trespassing.


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