USBR Best Practices and Risk Methodology for Dams

Center Hill Dam Seepage Rehabilitation Project Work Platform

Center Hill Dam Seepage Rehabilitation Project Work Platform

I was recently made aware of an excellent reference from the US Bureau of Reclamation regarding best practices and risk methodology for assessing dams. This is a reference manual to accompany a course offering, but may still serve as a a good stand along reference. From the USBR:

The Bureau of Reclamation has been using risk analysis as the primary support for dam safety decision-making for about 15 years, and has developed procedures to analyze risks for a multitude of potential failure modes. Manuals, guidelines, standards, and practical reference material on how to perform risk analysis for dam safety applications are lacking. The Best Practices Training Manual contains what are considered the ‘Best Practices’ currently in use for estimating dam safety risks at the Bureau of Reclamation. Risk analysis at the Bureau of Reclamation has evolved over the years and will continue to evolve. Therefore, updates to this manual are planned in the future as significant improvements are developed.

From the outset of implementing risk analysis, Reclamation recognized that procedures and data available for dam safety risk analysis, while quantitative, do not provide precise numerical results. Therefore, this manual strives to present useful information, tools, and techniques, while stopping short of a ‘cookbook’ approach. This allows the risk analyst(s) to use the proper balance of engineering judgment and calculations in estimating risks, and to understand and ‘build the case’ for what is influencing the risks the most. Thus, the numbers, while important, are less important than understanding and documenting what the major risk contributors are and why.

[Source: Download the reference chapters and presentations from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Image: USACE]