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21st Century Dam Design
Advances and Adaptations
31st Annual USSD Conference
San Diego, California, April 11-15, 2011
On the Cover
Artist's rendition of San Vicente Dam after completion of the dam raise project to increase local storage and provide
a more flexible conveyance system for use during emergencies such as earthquakes that could curtail the regions
imported water supplies. The existing 220-foot-high dam, owned by the City of San Diego, will be raised by 117
feet to increase reservoir storage capacity by 152,000 acre-feet. The project will be the tallest dam raise in the
United States and tallest roller compacted concrete dam raise in the world.
The information contained in this publication regarding commercial projects or firms may not be used for
advertising or promotional purposes and may not be construed as an endorsement of any product or
from by the United States Society on Dams. USSD accepts no responsibility for the statements made
or the opinions expressed in this publication.
Copyright 2011 U.S. Society on Dams
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011924673
ISBN 978-1-884575-52-5
U.S. Society on Dams
1616 Seventeenth Street, #483
Denver, CO 80202
Telephone: 303-628-5430
Fax: 303-628-5431
U.S. Society on Dams
To be the nation's leading organization of professionals dedicated to advancing the role of dams
for the benefit of society.
Mission USSD is dedicated to:
Advancing the knowledge of dam engineering, construction, planning, operation,
performance, rehabilitation, decommissioning, maintenance, security and safety;
Fostering dam technology for socially, environmentally and financially sustainable water
resources systems;
Providing public awareness of the role of dams in the management of the nation's water
Enhancing practices to meet current and future challenges on dams; and
Representing the United States as an active member of the International Commission on
Large Dams (ICOLD).
USDI Dam Safety Programs 1149

M. E. Baker, P.E. PMP


Six bureaus with dams in the Department of Interior have been working together for the
past 4 years to improve their dam safety programs in a project called Reduce Dam Safety
Risk (RDSR). The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Reclamation (USBR),
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Park
Service (NPS) and Office of Surface Mining (OSM) are participating. The goal is to
identify and adopt best practices across all bureaus in order to reduce dam safety risks
and increase program efficiency. Phase 1 is complete. A total of eight dam safety
program areas were addressed: dam examination, scaling of program activities, risk
management, Emergency Action Plans (EAP), inundation mapping, dam incident
management, dam monitoring quality and terminology/glossary.

This paper describes this RDSR project, the recently completed eight Phase 1
subprojects, and the path forward.


The Department is responsible for the safety of 616 high or significant hazard potential
dams. The dams widely varied in size and complexity. The dams provide different
benefits for each bureau. For example, Reclamation large dams provide water supply to
irrigation projects and municipalities in the West. In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
dams provide water supply to fish hatcheries and wildlife. Table 1 lists the number of
dams by bureau and potential hazard classification.

It is Department policy that each bureau with dams establishes and operates a dam safety
program with an emphasis on the high and significant hazard dams. The bureaus have
operated their individual dam safety programs over the past 20 - 30 years. The total
budget for these programs is over $100 million per year. Reclamation has responsibility
for reviewing and advising the other Department bureaus on their dam safety programs.

Mark E. Baker, Program Manager, Dam Safety Office, Bureau of Reclamation,
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1150
Table 1. Dams in the U.S. Department of the Interior by Bureau (as of 2008)

Number of Dams by Potential Hazard Classification

Bureau High Significant Low TOTAL
BIA 97 34*** 733 864
BLM 8 1 581 590
BOR 334 41 104 479
FWS 15 18 160 193
NPS 16 31 453 500
OSM* 8 12 53 73
USGS ** 1 0 0 1
Totals 479 137 2084 2,700
* OSM regulates dams and is not responsible for performing dam examinations.
** Because the United States Geological Survey has only one dam, this bureau was not
included in the RDSR project.
***BIA significant hazard dams have the potential for loss of life.


The bureaus are using a comprehensive business improvement model called Enterprise
Architecture to analyze existing dam safety program areas and to identify best practices.
The bureaus completed the planning component of Enterprise Architecture with the
creation of the Reduce Dam Safety Risk (RDSR) Modernization Blueprint.

The goals of the Blueprint were to:
Document the existing dam safety programs
Analyze and improve the programs
Develop recommendations for reducing dam safety risks and increasing program
Develop a plan for how to implement the recommendations (implementation

The team identified the following nine dam safety business process areas. These areas
represent areas of common function within a dam safety program:
1. Examine and collect dam information
2. Estimate dam safety/risk
3. Evaluate dam portfolio safety risks and make decision
4. Oversee dam safety decision implementation
5. Manage dam information
6. Prepare for dam emergencies
7. Monitor dam structural safety/risks
8. Protect from non-owned dams
9. Manage the dam safety program
USDI Dam Safety Programs 1151
For each area, process diagrams were developed see as an example Figure 1.

Figure 1. Example Business Process Flow Diagram: Examine and Collect Dam

The team worked from the beginning of 2007 to 2009 to develop the Blueprint document.
It explains the business of dam safety (at the Federal and Department levels) and provides
descriptions of each bureaus dam safety program. This Blueprint includes 72
recommendations for implementation. The implementation project is subdivided into
five phases to be implemented over the next 5 to 8 years.

An analyst assisted the team with documentation of existing practices within each bureau.
The team found that each bureau is in general compliance with Departmental-level policy
for dam safety; however each bureau dam safety program has very different program
processes. This was a key finding of the Blueprint. The team also looked to identify best
practices to be implemented by each bureau.


As stated in the Blueprint, the implementation vision is to strengthen bureau dam safety
programs with common products and services while meeting bureau-unique

The Blueprint included the following implementation strategies:

Develop an Implementation Plan
Implement in phases over 5 years (subsequently this time period was extended)
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1152
Manage implementation using current project management standards
Develop business cases for capital intensive (e.g. expensive) initiatives
Develop a Department-wide dam safety guideline and glossary
Make recommendations for revising existing Department-wide policy
Perform risk analysis of all high and significant hazard dams
Identify and adopt program performance measures
Scale program activities based upon dam site characteristics (such as size and



Phase 1, Launch Real Risk Reduction, began in November 2009 and was completed in
the summer of 2010. It consists of the following 8 subprojects:
Dam examination types, frequency, and examiner qualifications
Dam categorization, scale, complexity
Dam and portfolio risk management
Emergency Action Plans
Inundation mapping standards
Dam incident management
Dam monitoring quality control
Standard terminology and glossary

These subprojects have the following general objectives:

1. Identify needed Departmental dam safety policy changes.
The existing policy is more general than specific. This has led to individual bureau
interpretation of policy. It is expected that the subprojects will create policy changes
(reviewed and approved at the bureau and Department levels) that will lead to more
consistent bureau dam safety programs. The RDSR team believed it important for all
bureaus to adopt consistent best technical approaches for dam safety. However, the team
was also sensitive to the unique mission of each of the bureaus and their very different
dam inventories.

2. Create new multi-bureau guidelines.
Policy statements are brief statements of requirement. Dam safety program activities are
complex and the creation of well-written guidelines and templates will provide the level
of detail needed to support adoption of common best practices.

3. Adopt common terminology
Before RDSR, the bureaus used different dam safety terms. It is a Phase 1 goal to
develop a common glossary of terms that we can all use. Similarly, the data elements
vary amongst the bureaus.

USDI Dam Safety Programs 1153
4. Make recommendations for future phases

Dam Examination Subproject

Blueprint finding:
1.1.a The bureaus formally examine their dams differently. The qualifications of the
examiners vary. The dams are inspected on different frequencies. Various exam
templates are used. Information technology is used to a varying extent. Data collected
during the exams varies.

Blueprint recommendations:
1.1.1 Develop policy and guidelines for establishing common dam safety examination
types and frequencies.
1.1.3 Establish and use consistent examiner minimum qualifications by dam safety
examination type and dam categories/characteristics. Establish minimum qualifications
for low hazard dam examiners.

Team Objectives and Process:
The team objectives were to:
1. Develop a Department-wide policy update for dam examinations
2. Develop criteria for the different types of dam inspections
3. Provide recommendations for consideration for future project phases
The team reviewed the Blueprint materials (called artifacts). They collected and
reviewed each bureaus current examination practices. The various types of exams were
identified. Most of the teams work involved the creation of a common examination type
and frequency table. Examiner qualifications were a common discussion topic.

The team identified the following examination types for High hazard potential dams:
Comprehensive Examination
Inaccessible Features Examinations
Intermediate Examinations
Annual Examinations

Table 2 shows the dam types over a 10-year period by dam hazard potential

21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1154

Table 2. Examination Frequency
Examination Type Schedule





















Low Hazard Dams X X
Significant Hazard Dams X X X X X X X X X X
Hazard Assessment X X
High Hazard Dams
Comprehensive Examination X X
Inaccessible Features X
Dam Operator Training X X
Intermediate Examination X
Annual Examination X X X X X X X

The team also developed examiner qualification requirements for each type of examination.

Program Activity Scaling Subproject

Blueprint finding:
1.9.i There are no common criteria for dam description, size, or type. (for example, a
small dam at one bureau may be a large dam at another and one bureau may call
a dam an embankment dam while another may call it a rockfill dam)
1.9.f It is challenging to efficiently and cost effectively perform dam safety activities for
small dams while also achieving reliable risk reduction.

Blueprint recommendation:
1.1.2 Establish DOI-wide categorization scheme for types/sizes of dams and develop
dam safety examination common checklists and report template and similar
support materials as appropriate to each (dam). Dam categorization should
include size and kind of dam.

Background and Team Objectives:
The Departments dams come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The largest dams,
such as Hoover Dam, are over 700 feet high. The smallest high hazard dam is only about
10 feet high. Some dams are made of concrete or masonry, while many others are
embankment dams.

These size differences create challenges to dam safety officers for efficient management
of program activities. For large dams, program activities often need to be scaled-up to
USDI Dam Safety Programs 1155
physically cover a large dam. Large dams have more data to review, have more
stakeholders and have more people downstream at risk. Conversely, when a dam safety
officer works with local staff on a 20-foot-high dam, he or she needs to scale down
many program activities and funding to maintain credibility. However, there should be
no reduction in the quality of technical work for a small dam.

In addition to size and type differences, there are additional site characteristic that can
affect program activities.

The objective is to produce a guideline that will support the use of dam size/complexity
in program activities. By taking these factors in account programs can be more efficient
and effective.

This subproject was challenging. How can we capture the differences of the dams and
relate these program activities?

The team first developed a matrix with a point scoring system to rate the complexity of
individual dams. However this approach did not address critical specific complexity
issues for individual program areas.

The approach that the team used was to develop a problem statement that described the
tremendous variety of Department and bureau dams and how currently the dam safety
programs use a one size fits all approach. There is an opportunity to make the
programs more effective and efficient by tailoring program activities for individual dams
based upon a number of factors.

The teams subproject report documents how scaling/complexity can be incorporated into
program activities for the dam safety program areas, such as:

Dam Examinations:
Schedule the length of the exam with the dam size, type and number of features
Examine several co-located dams in one trip (for several Department bureaus)
Consider cost effective hand-sampling rather than expensive drill rigs for initial
soils testing

Estimating Dam Risks:
Compare cost of further risk analysis with the cost to repair.
Consider the level of consequences in the selected level of risk assessment.
For small reservoirs, will the reservoir empty before the dam develops a full

Emergency Action Plans:
Small dams generally have part time staff who need brief and easy-to-use EAPs
Exercises need to be scaled by size and the size of the population at risk.
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1156
Inundation maps need to reflect plausible scenarios.

The subproject report will be used as a Department guideline for use of
scaling/complexity factors in planning and executing program activities.

Risk Management Subproject

Blueprint findings:
1.2.a The bureaus currently determine the safety or risk of their dams in different ways.
Some bureaus have fully adopted risk reduction approaches while other bureaus
determine safety deterministically (based upon condition or meeting criteria for
maximum loads). Two bureaus have performed pilot risk studies. There is
currently no way of comparing the safety or risk of dams in/across the Department.
1.3.a The bureaus use different methods to evaluate the safety or risks and to determine
what actions to take to address unacceptable safety/risk concerns. Some bureaus
have detailed risk tolerability guidelines; others have more general requirements to
address condition/safety concerns

Blueprint recommendations:
1.2.1 Develop a consistent failure mode-based approach to estimating dam safety risks
across all bureaus. (the team believed it was important to consistently estimate loss
of life-related risks across all bureaus)
1.3.1 The bureaus should develop a common public safety protection guideline for risk
estimation, evaluation and decision making. This should include a glossary of
common risk terminology.

Team Objectives and Process:
The team objectives were to develop the following:
1. Risk methodology guidelines
2. Public protection guidelines
3. Risk-based decision making and risk management guidelines
4. Policy updates
5. Standard risk chart (annualized probability of failure versus annualized loss of life)

The project was divided into three parts: development of the risk methodology
guidelines, public protection guidelines, risk-based decision making/risk management
guidelines. The team had three face-to-face, two day meetings and several conference

The team recommended the adoption of the following risk terminology (developed with
Reclamation/US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory
USDI Dam Safety Programs 1157

Figure 4. Dam safety risk management terminology (from Reclamation Public
Protection Guidelines)

The team developed a draft Department Risk Management Guideline. It defines the key
elements for risk analysis, including: failure modes identification (Potential Failure
Modes Analysis PFMA), consequence estimation, loading probabilities, event trees,
consideration of uncertainty, building the dam safety case, and expert/program/client

The team recommends that the bureaus adopt a common periodic dam Comprehensive
Review (CR) scaled to individual dam size/complexity/risk. This common CR would
replace several different risk-based review products that the various bureaus are currently

Reclamation has developed and used a public protection guideline to provide an overall
management approach for dam risk management. The guidelines were intended to ensure
adequate and consistent levels of public protection when evaluating and modifying
existing structures and appurtenant structures and when designing new dams or
structures. Rather than develop a custom public protection guideline, the team
recommends that the bureaus adopt Reclamations guideline. Note that Reclamation is
currently coordinating with the US Army Corps of Engineers on a common risk
management public protection guidelines.

The team is also recommending that bureaus adopt a common risk estimate chart (called
the f-N chart). The team also believes it important to qualitatively describe non-loss of
life related consequences of dam failure in dam safety decision documents. It is
important that each bureau consider all impacts of dam failure and the impacts of a dam
failure on the ability of a bureau to carry out its mission.
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1158
Emergency Action Plan Subproject

Blueprint findings:
1.6.b The EAP formats differ from bureau to bureau.
1.6.c Not all EAPs are being tested (exercised) every 5 years as required by the Federal
Guidelines for Dam Safety (note that there are several different levels of EAP
testing ranging from drills to functional exercises).

Blueprint recommendations:
1.6.1 EAPs will be completed and exercised for all high or significant hazard dams.
1.6.2 Develop EAP templates for use in all bureaus.
1.6.3 Develop dam safety program internal notification procedures to effectively respond
and investigate dam safety incidents to verify whether an EAP needs to be

Team Objectives and Process:
The team had the following objectives:
1. Develop departmental policy updates
2. Develop EAP guideline sections for a new DOI dam safety guideline.
3. Develop an EAP template
4. Track status of program EAP development and exercising
5. Establish guidelines for EAP annual updates and exercising
The team collected bureau EAP examples. They reviewed the FEMA 64 Emergency
Action Planning document. The team found that several of the bureaus either had not
developed EAPs for each of their high and significant hazard dams or that the bureaus
were not exercising their EAPs adequately. The team then developed a common and
scalable EAP template for use by the bureaus. The common template will also support
future information technology improvements.

The teams report includes the essential elements of the EAP, essential role players,
recommendations for annual updating and exercising. The team developed an EAP
template consistent with Department and Federal requirements. It is compatible with the
National Incident Command System and can be scalable to the size or risks of a dam.
They coordinated closely with the inundation and incident management subprojects.

Since not all dams have an EAP or are properly exercised, measurement of EAP
accomplishment is important. The team developed EAP performance measurements so
programs can plan for and track accomplishment. They also developed a 5-year plan to
complete all EAP requirements.

Some bureaus do not have an Internal Alert EAP response level. The EAP team is
recommending adoption of Internal Alerts to more officially respond to dam incidents
before the EAP needs to be activated.

USDI Dam Safety Programs 1159
Inundation Mapping Subproject

Blueprint finding:
1.6.g Not all of the Departments high and significant hazard potential dams have
inundation maps. The inundation maps are of inconsistent technical

Blueprint recommendation:
1.6.4 Develop inundation map technical standards scaled to the magnitude of the dam

Team Objectives and Process:
The team worked to develop the following:
1. An inundation map technical guideline.
2. Policy updates and new guideline content
The team collected bureau examples of inundation maps in current use. It was
discovered that these inundation mapping studies are used for the following purposes:
- Emergency Action Plans development and exercises
- Evacuating people during actual emergencies
- Loss of life studies
- Economic consequence studies
Inundation maps must be scalable and reflect the purpose of the map.

From these the bureau inundation map examples and from consultation with inundation
modeling experts, the team decided that the creation of the following 3-tier inundation
map guideline would give bureau dam safety programs flexibility and understanding in
selecting inundation map techniques that meet program requirements. Each tier would
vary in sophistication and complexity.

Tier 1: The first tier is a basic level and is used when there is limited data and budget
available. Typically, only 1-dimensional hydraulic modeling is used. Scenarios should
be limited to sunny day failure and a hydrologic event where an embankment dam is
overtopped by 1 to 2 feet of water. Tier 1 is usually used for EAP applications or to
assist in performing a downstream hazard analysis.

Tier 2: This level of analysis can include 1-dimensional or 2-dimensional hydraulic
modeling. More sophisticated failure scenarios include: sunny day, seismic, more
extensive hydrologic scenarios, and security-based scenarios. Applications include
EAPs, risk analyses, and security analyses. Tier 2 analysis usually requires detailed data
on the dam, reservoir, hydraulic structures, and upstream/downstream terrain.

Tier 3: This level has the highest level of detail and complexity. Large dams in series
with other dams or dams in the same basin often require this level of analysis.
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1160
Dramatically linked (coupled) 1-dimensional/2-dimensional models are included. Large
dams with large populations at risk commonly receive this level of study.

In addition to the tiers, the team developed specific mapping guidelines. All maps should
include such items as: inundation polygon, scenario description, flood wave travel times,
breach parameters, terrain data used, peak discharge, north arrow, map scale, and title
block. A list of optional map items is also included.

Incident Management Subproject

Blueprint finding:
1.6.f The bureaus do not have consistent policies for reviewing and learning from dam
failures or other major dam incidents.

Blueprint recommendation:
1.6.6 Develop dam safety program internal notification procedures to effectively
respond and
investigate dam incidents to verify whether the EAP needs to be activated.

Team Objectives and Process:
The team had the following objectives:
1. Develop draft policy updates and multi-bureau guidelines
2. Make recommendations for future phases
The team had a lot of internal discussions and discussions with the EAP subproject about
the term incident management. Is this already covered by the EAP? From the teams
research, it was clear that there is a need for focused guidelines for effective engineering
response to dam incidents. Incidents at DOI dams occur at the rate of about 1 per month.
Dam staff is taking actions at the dams to respond to incidents and in some cases have
actually prevented dam failures. The EAP documents focus on communicating with
downstream entities and do not yet include adequate instructions/advice/best practices for
actions to be taken at the dam to prevent dam failure.

The team collected documentation on a total of 63 dam incidents, mostly from incidents
at DOI dams. About 25 of the incidents were from a database of BIA dam incidents.
This database and related files allowed for easy incident retrieval. The other
approximately 40 incidents were much more difficult to collect. The incident
documentation varied widely: from a single email to an extensive formal after incident

To group the incidents, the team decided to use major incident categories corresponding
to the common loading types used in risk analysis: static, hydrologic and seismic. These
major categories were then broken down into subcategories. For example, the static
category was subdivided into internal erosion, seepage (without internal erosion), and

USDI Dam Safety Programs 1161
Documentation of each incident was distilled by the team. Team members filled-in a
large spreadsheet with columns for: incident name, date, dam owner, discovery,
monitoring, evaluation, risk reduction, and documentation.

From the spreadsheet, the team identified best practices for addition to a Dam Incident
Management Guideline. Because of the close relation of incidents to the EAP, the team
had common team members from the EAP subproject. In general, incident management
is about responding to the problem at the dam while an EAP is a more encompassing
document including the important coordination with downstream entities. The incident
management guideline supports the EAP by being a comprehensive guide for best
practices to address dam incidents.
The policy changes suggested by the team will create a requirement for formal reporting
and lessons learned from major dam incidents. The team created a list of sections for a
common report format.

The team made the following recommendations for the bureaus and for future RDSR
Each bureau should maintain a repository of past dam safety incidents.
Each bureau should have quick, pre-arranged access to dam technical specialists.
Every EAP should include an Internal Alert response level to formally
acknowledge a potential problem at a dam exists, but it is not yet an emergency.
Train local staff in incident identification and response.
Evaluate what equipment and materials should be prepositioned at the dam,
nearby offices or quickly available from local suppliers.
Formally close out Internal Alerts and EAP emergency response levels.

Dam Monitoring Quality Control Subproject

Blueprint Findings:
1.7.b Dams are monitored either visually or by instrumentation inconsistently from
bureau-to-bureau and sometimes even within a bureau. Monitoring frequencies
vary, dam structural safety monitoring instrumentation varies, and the
qualification and training of local staff varies. Local staff often performs dam
structural safety work as a collateral duty.
1.7.e Some bureaus have their dam monitoring staff transmit visual inspection
checklists and instrumentation data to dam engineers for review, others do not.
Performance of this activity varies greatly within bureaus, as well.

Blueprint Recommendation:
1.7.4 Develop processes to ensure monitoring is being performed on schedule and is
being properly evaluated and reported.

Team Objectives and Process:
The team had the following objectives:
1. Update Department policy related to monitoring dams
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1162
2. Develop a guideline for dam monitoring quality control
The team reviewed the Blueprint artifacts for this monitoring process area. The team
gave much consideration to what constituted a high quality monitoring program. If the
right data is not collected, it doesnt matter how well the data is collected and reviewed.
If the right data is being monitored but it is not being sent in a timely fashion to qualified
reviewers, then monitoring is of low quality. The team considered monitoring to be like
a chain with each link being critical to overall monitoring success. Each link must be of
high quality.

The team developed a tool called the Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF) to
evaluate the quality of an organizations monitoring program. It has the following rating
1. The program is based upon failure modes and communicated to operating staff
2. Monitoring work is performed on schedule
3. Monitoring staff are trained and qualified
4. Monitoring work is performed properly
5. Monitoring work results are properly reported
6. The data are evaluated in a timely manner
7. The data are evaluated by trained and qualified personnel
8. The data are properly evaluated according to established criteria

Several sub-elements have been developed for each of the elements above.

The team members reviewed each of their bureaus using the MPAF. The results
identified monitoring program areas for improvement. For example, Reclamation learned
that changes in the monitoring program identified during periodic risk evaluation were
not being communicated to dam operating personnel in a timely fashion. Currently it
often takes one or more years for the revised dam monitoring forms and requirements to
be incorporated into the Standing Operating Procedures for a dam. This weakness will be
corrected by instituting quicker transmittal of the revised monitoring requirements to the

The team is proposing a new Departmental dam safety policy to require that bureau
monitoring programs be reviewed at least every 5 years using the MPAF. The MPAF
will be added to the new Department dam safety guideline.

Glossary and Terminology Subproject

Blueprint Findings:
1.9.i There are no common criteria for dam description, size, or type.
1.9.j There is no DOI wide common dam and dam safety written list of terminology,
such as a glossary. (Note: FEMA has a dam safety glossary of terms)

USDI Dam Safety Programs 1163
Blueprint Recommendations:
1.9.a Establish common descriptions of dam safety terminology across all bureaus,
including risk, dam size, dam type, and reservoir size.. These descriptors will be
used to develop policies, guidelines, templates and criteria.
1.9.c Develop a Department wide glossary of terms for the Department-wide common
elements of dam safety management.
1.9.h Identify and implement information technology solutions that track and present
risk information and other program level information. Develop and adopt
Department- wide data standards/stewardship for common program elements
across all bureaus.

Team Objectives and Process:
The team had the following objectives:
1. Establish a glossary of common terms
2. Begin data standardization by starting with the National Inventory of Dams (NID)
data fields
3. Coordinate with the other subprojects on the above.

The team collected hundreds of bureau dam safety terms and definitions. They also
collected industry dam safety terminology. The FEMA 148 glossary of terms proved to
be an authoritative source of terms and definitions. It was discovered that the bureaus
also use many unique terms not defined elsewhere. Some terms are common across most
bureaus; others are specific to an individual bureau.

Acronyms and abbreviations were also collected and a standard list was created and
reviewed by the team and by other subproject teams. In addition, the team collected units
used in dam safety work as defined in the NID. For example, dam height will be
measured in feet (not in meters).

This team created the following:
1. A common glossary of 1400 terms by dam safety area category
2. Standard units (for NID terms)
3. An initial authoritative data source for dam safety data (primarily from the NID list of
To align with the Blueprint, the team has made an effort to match data fields with the 9 dam
safety business process areas.

The team developed the following recommendations for future phases:
1. Include more terms
2. Establish data stewards
3. Include more standard units
4. Make the glossary searchable (e.g. all terms for EAPs)
21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations 1164

The bureaus are reviewing the results of Phase 1 and developing estimates of
costs/workload/benefits. The bureaus will then formally accept the Phase 1 products.
The recommended policy changes and a new DOI Dam Safety Handbook will remain in
draft for 1 year to allow the bureau dam safety programs time to adjust to these program

The RDSR team has begun planning for Phase 2. Some of the potential activities for
Phase 2 include:
The need for more consistent independent reviews (such as consultant review
boards) of dam safety modification designs in accordance with the Federal
Guidelines for Dam Safety.
Continued work on a comprehensive glossary and to expand the authoritative data
New Departmental policy to include OSMs regulatory responsibilities for coal
waste impoundments.
A system to measure dam safety program performance.
An evaluation of existing Information Technology systems
Dam safety program annual reporting

Future phases are planned for the period 2012 to 2017. These phases will likely include
information technology solutions to automate repetitive program activities.


The Department bureaus with dams have come together in a multi-year project to
improve their dam safety programs. They developed a model of dam safety including
nine business process areas. They analyzed each process area, shared current practices
and identified findings and recommendations in a formal Blueprint document.

In Phase 1, they have participated in multi-bureau teams to identify best technical
practices and program improvements that, when adopted, will reduce risks and make the
programs more efficient.

The RDSR project has also increased the collaboration and sense of teamwork amongst
the Department bureaus. The multi-bureau team members worked together to tackle
difficult technical and programmatic issues. This collaboration will be invaluable as the
RDSR project moves into the next phases.


The author would like to thank the subproject team leaders, Paul Peterson (BLM), Matt
Warren (USBR), Chris Danley (USBR), Nate Tatum (NPS), Brad Iarossi (FWS), Bill
Fiedler (USBR), Li-Tai Bilbao (OSM), Scott Goss (BIA), and Jay Stateler (USBR) for
USDI Dam Safety Programs 1165
their leadership of their multi-bureau teams. He would also like to thank each of the
subproject participants and the project leader, Brian Becker.