Indemnification Costs in the Dam Safety Decision

by John J. Boland,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering Hydrology


The ASCE Task Committee on Spillway Design Floods has proposed safety criteria for three categories of dams. Category 1 dams are those with anticipated failure consequences so large and widely felt as to dictate, without further analysis, the safety design within the range of current practice. Category 3 dams are those where the likely consequences of failure are moderate to small and generally confined to impacts on the dam owner. The Committee has defined as category 2 all those dams with possible failure consequences too large or widespread to qualify as category 3, but not so severe as to confirm a probable maximum flood design regardless of cost. In analyzing the monetary impacts of possible dam failure, problems arise when uncertain failure consequences, primarily affecting downstream populations and activities, are compared to the essentially certain avoided costs of dam construction, which accrue to the benefit of the dam owner. This paper discusses an innovative suggestion for treatment of this comparison: the use of indemnification costs.

Subject Headings: Dam failures | Failure analysis | Dam safety | Owners | Economic factors | Rivers and streams | Floods | Spillways

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