On Jan. 22, USACE lowered the Wolf Creek Dam lake level to reduce the risk of dam failure during the ongoing, accelerated efforts to fix the project.
This is the first peer review report on a high-risk USACE dam, and it provides important input regarding current USACE efforts to investigate, monitor and modify Wolf Creek Dam.
Peer review is a critical component of both the USACE Dam Safety Program and USACEâ€™s 12 Actions for Change, released in August 2006. The 12 Actions emphasize the need to employ dynamic peer review of projects with potential of high consequences; employ risk-based concepts in construction; and effectively communicate risk with the public.
â€œPublic safety is our number one priority,â€ said Steve Stockton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy director of Civil Works. â€œThe dynamic, independent review is integral to our 12 Actions for Change and provides additional depth to our assessment and analysis of hazards posed by our nationâ€™s aging flood and storm damage reduction infrastructure.â€
USACE in 2005 and 2006 performed an initial screening of more than130 dam projects, which represent approximately 20 percent of the Corpsâ€™ 610 dams. The screened dams were believed to be the highest risk among those USACE owns and operates. The risk-informed screening process considered performance and failure consequences, allowed USACE to prioritize its dams nationwide, and produced life risk and economic risk information. USACEâ€™s goal is to screen the remainder of its dams by the end of fiscal 2009.
As a result, USACE identified six dam projects that are critically near failure or have extremely high life and/or economic risk, and has made them a national priority for funding, studies, investigations and remedial work. USACE has implemented interim risk reduction measures, which include inspections, monitoring, pool restrictions, public awareness and additional instrumentation at each of the six.
The USACE dams identified as highest risk and highest priority are:
- Wolf Creek Dam, located in Kentucky
- Center Hill Dam, located in Tennessee
- Martis Creek and Isabella Dams, both located in California
- Clearwater Dam, located in Missouri
- Herbert Hoover Dike, located in Florida
All dams determined to be of highest risk will undergo a dynamic peer review by an independent external panel to ensure USACE is taking the best approach to reduce risks to the public. USACE employs independent project reviews to provide additional insight to assist with its dam safety management and programming decisions.
USACE owns and operates 610 dams that serve a variety of purposes including navigation, flood control, water supply, irrigation, hydropower, recreation, environmental enhancement, and combinations of these purposes. USACEâ€™s primary objective in its Dam Safety Program is to maintain public safety by making sure its dams do not present unacceptable risks to the public.
The Dam Safety Program uses a risk-informed strategy to:
- prioritize dam safety studies, investigations and remedial fixes;
- prioritize program funding;
- manage and buy down risk with a cost-effective approach;
- use risk management in the routine aspects of the program;
- be situationally aware of the risks posed by USACE dams.
USACE asked an independent external panel of experts to review and assess these six dams and the panelâ€™s assessment of the remaining projects is ongoing. USACE will continue to actively work with state and local emergency managers to ensure emergency notification plans for communities affected are in place.
The Wolf Creek Dam Consensus Report, Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis, can be found at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/WolfCreek/.
For Wolf Creek Dam project specific questions, please contact Bill Peoples at (615) 736-7834.
For questions about the Wolf Creek Dam Consensus Report, Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis, please contact Keith Ferguson at (303) 237-6601.
For additional information about the United States Army Corps of Engineers, please visit our Web site at www.usace.army.mil.