Potential Failure Modes & Risk Evaluation in Dam Safety

Adrienne Shaner, PE, Project Manager, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

Design criteria for dams has evolved over time, often in response to dam failure events. While the industry, regulators, and dam owners have worked together to improve overall dam safety in Virginia, recent dam failures across the United States and other countries should prompt all to consider the lessons that can be learned and applied. For example, near-failure and failure events at structures such as Oroville Dam, Spencer Dam, and Edenville Dam all occurred during conditions less than their respective spillway design flood events. 

This presentation will include an overview of traditional standards-based dam analysis and the Virginia Impounding Structure Regulations, review of recent dam failure case studies and lessons learned, and a discussion of risk-informed approaches for dam evaluation being applied in the dam safety industry.  

Author Bio

Adrienne Shaner is a project manager at Gannett Fleming, Inc. in Newport News and has been dedicated to providing quality, responsive engineering services to clients on dam safety and water resources projects across Virginia for 13 years. She is a graduate of Old Dominion University and currently serves as a Director on the VLWA Board of Directors.