Safety of Dams—Bureau of Reclamation

by Donald A. Gray, (M.ASCE), Retired; Lakewood, CA; formerly, Chf., Operations Bureau, Div. of Water Operation and Maintenance, Engrg. and Res. Ctr., Bureau of Reclamation, Dept. of Interior, Denver, CO,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 2, Pg. 267-277

Document Type: Journal Paper


The program of the Bureau of Reclamation for monitoring the safety of its existing dams includes periodic examinations, dam behavior measurements, spillway capacity reevaluations, seismic and other structural reevaluations, operating instruction documentation and updating, and landslide and upstream dam surveillance. The Bureau has responsibility for the safety of dams for 240 reservoirs with capacities ranging from 1,000 – 29,755,000 acre-ft (1,233,000 – 36,750,000, 000 m³), all located in 17 western states. Its reservoirs of 5,000 acre-ft (6,165,000 m³) or more in capacity total approximately one-tenth of those in the United States. Recent studies have revealed that a substantial number of Bureau dams constructed before 1950 require spillway capacity determinations using present day hydrologic techniques and data. The adequacy of spillway capacity at older dams of significant size in the United States should be reviewed.

Subject Headings: Spillways | Safety | Dam safety | Structural safety | Structural behavior | Reservoirs | Hydrologic data | Land reclamation | United States

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