Recognizing Risk – The Prioritization of High Hazard Potential Dams

Barrett Slate, EIT, Water Resources Design, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Tony Grubbs, PE, Water Resources Design, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

The FEMA HHPD grant funding bases eligibility on whether a dam is high hazard, has an EAP, fails to meet minimum state dam safety standards, and poses unacceptable risk to the public. In FY21 these criteria still apply while FEMA has begun to further define what “unacceptable risk” really means.

Freese and Nichols, Inc. conducted a screening level risk assessment using FEMA’s new risk assessment tool, with changes to best fit North Carolina’s specific needs, in order to prioritize NC’s high hazard dams in a consistent manner. Freese and Nichols, Inc. assessed 73 dams by analyzing the total annual probability of failure and comparing this to downstream consequences to find the state’s dams which required the most urgent action and funding. The process was completed as a “desktop” review using only existing data retained by NC Dam Safety to expedite the process.

This presentation will explore this pilot study in depth, while also discussing its various benefits and challenges.


Author Bio

Tony Grubbs is the southeast team leader for Freese and Nichols’ dams and levees group and a senior project manager in the Raleigh, NC office. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the dams industry in Virginia and across the southeast.

Barrett Slate is a project engineer for Freese and Nichols' dams and levees group. He has experience in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and analysis, development of design plan sets for dam rehabilitation and repair, and assessment of the impacts of dams and levees on downstream environments.