2023 Schnabel Engineering Lecture: History of Dam and Levee Safety in the United States

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Virginia Tech

Since the failure of Teton Dam in June 1976 that led to the enactment of dam safety legislation, the United States dam engineering profession has established a robust and active dam safety program to monitor the approximate 90,500 dams registered in the National Inventory of Dams (NID) maintained by the USACE. Efforts are underway by the USACE to establish a national levee safety program to monitor the approximate 150,000 miles of levees in the United States. Risk Informed Decision Making (RIDM) was implemented about 25 years ago at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). As it has evolved over time in the dam/levee engineering world, it has produced positive impacts on these programs and focused continued safe operation of this critical infrastructure sector. The presentation will review the history of these programs and the evolution into risk-based dam assessments and new technology that are being used in current practice and will explore what is possible in the future. This management of critical infrastructure will continue to evolve for dams and levees as well as other civil engineering infrastructure, thus impacting your future careers.

Dam safety, Levee safety