Dams are a vital part of our world’s infrastructure, and global or environmental forces can affect how we assess their safety. Risk, climate change, and sedimentation and sustainability are three such factors driving recent changes and developments in how we assess, modify, and design dams for water supply, flood control, and power generation.
Brian Becker spent 35 years in dam engineering positions with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before joining Barr. Brian, a delegate to the International Commission on Large Dams’ Committee on Dam Safety, discusses how these trends could impact facility design, operations, and planning.
A: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently updated regulations, making formerly voluntary risk assessments mandatory. The reason was the benefits: the work that goes into risk analysis leads involved parties to gain a deeper understanding of a dam and its strengths and weaknesses; it helps owners and agencies know what needs to be mitigated.
As far as clients, they may not completely understand risk analysis themselves. They may have questions about what will be expected. They’ll need information about what risk analysis entails; training on dam inspection and making risk-related business decisions; assistance conducting the analysis; and help working risk analysis into their business model.
Our dam engineering team can help clients understand and perform risk analysis and RIDM, as well as Potential Failure Mode Analyses and semi-quantitative and quantitative risk assessments. Our strength is helping owners and operators truly understand the resulting information and how to use it to make or prioritize decisions.
A: Climate change—and extreme weather and floods—will affect how we operate facilities, store water, and generate power; it will also affect irrigation supply. The challenges include making water available, anticipating extreme storms, and planning for and managing a fluctuating water supply. Twenty years ago, when we called it global warming, I worked with hydrologists to try to better understand climate change impacts on dam safety; even now, there’s still a lot to learn. One continually maturing aspect is the creation of resilient structures. Barr understands the latest developments, and we consider resilience when designing dam modifications or new structures and assisting with operations plans.
A: Sedimentation in a reservoir impacts the amount of water that can be stored and supplied, and reservoir sustainability is affecting the economics and viability of many facilities. In future planning, owners and operators need to account for storage loss and include it in their economic analysis; design must accommodate how a dam or reservoir will handle sedimentation. Barr can help clients understand sedimentation effects and determine the best mitigation measures, such as design modifications, dredging, or other methods to restore volume. For a new facility, we can help anticipate sustainability needs.
For more information on dam safety and risk assessment, contact us.
Brian Becker’s extensive 35-year background in dam engineering was gained in positions with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). A specialist in dam safety and risk assessment and management, he served as the USBR’s Dam Safety Chief and is a current U.S. delegate to the International Commission on Large Dams’ Committee on Dam Safety.
Q&A: Spotlight on safety
Transforming water treatment plant design
Unlock funding for abandoned mines
Proactive permitting strategy powers solar project success
Stormwater: Underground and under control
Receive the latest editions right to your inbox and explore industry trends, projects, and company news.
Collecting data from the skies with reality capture technology
Green infrastructure and stacked-benefits projects
EPA proposes maximum contaminant levels for six PFAS in drinking water
Minnesota DNR releases new commercial solar siting guidance
Emerging PFAS destruction technologies
The Inflation Reduction Act: Manufacturing focus
Domestic uranium production on the rise
EPA's latest proposed rule eliminates PFAS reporting exemption
Introducing Barr’s ugly holiday sweater contest winner
Civil designs create homes for the holidays
Designing Africa's first potash processing facility
Q&A: Are mussels impeding your underwater project?
EPA begins enforcement of coal-ash disposal rule
Floodplain management expert joins Barr
From our CEO
Designing Africa’s first potash mine
The Inflation Reduction Act: Mining focus
The Inflation Reduction Act: Power focus
A deeper look into the promising new PFAS destruction approach
Tailings storage facilities: A unique challenge for a critical industry
The Inflation Reduction Act: Fuels focus
Making an impact in the Rocky Mountain Region
From Boy Scout to Senior NEPA Consultant
Stabilizing a community's backup water supply
Q&A: In your ESG journey, keep the destination in mind
Inflation Reduction Act opens door for energy investment
Reviving landings on Lake Michigan's Plum and Pilot Islands
PFAS: What’s all the hype?
Becoming an environmental engineer, despite the odds
Siting a solar farm on brownfields, landfills, and former industrial sites
Analyzing climate change risks with GIS mapping
Explosives engineering: Is it as dangerous as it sounds?
Is biological sulfate treatment the key?
Achieving work-life balance as a female engineer and military spouse
Acid rock drainage: More than just a mining project concern?
Incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies
Developing long-term PFAS solutions
Establishing climate change adaptation strategies
Designing new tools and solutions for stormwater quality improvement
Maximizing the usefulness of big data and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Uncovering the technical challenges of paste, filtered tailings, and mine backfill
Adding value with technology-enhanced imaging
Navigating floodwater management
Harnessing the power of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) technology
Delivering innovation on Department of Energy projects
Financing your project with federal infrastructure funding
SEC proposes broad climate-related reporting rules
Fuel standards and carbon intensity to drive profitability
New PFAS rule to have broad implications
Restoration project near Lake Superior wins top honor
Slope stabilization puts mine site back in operation
Stormwater management plan promotes sustainability
First steps toward fixing a dam
Which tailings management solution is right for your mine?
Turn the pieces into a picture with a data integration plan
"Backyard" rainwater feature reduces downstream pollutants
Modeling roadmap helps manage chloride levels
Statistics unlock answers to contamination questions
Getting started on your ESG journey? Barr can help
Water ride makes a splash at Branson theme park
Facing climate-change challenges with confidence
TRI updates include new reporting requirements
Q&A: Survey season in Michigan
Are trolley-assist haul trucks the next advancement for Minnesota mines?
Barr names Ward Swanson as president and CEO
Island Lake Dam repair project wins engineering award
Barr establishes office in Reno to support client projects
Navigating new S-K 1300 reporting standard
Addressing the risks of acid-generating materials
Renewable natural gas projects turn waste to energy
Brownfields open doors for clean-energy development
Enhancing flood-protection measures in North Dakota
Inspecting a stormwater tunnel during river drawdown
Working with the weather during inversions
Barr acquires Michigan environmental firm
From the CEO