Using Threat to Life Studies to Guide Dam Safety Decisions

by Wayne J. Graham, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


Ensuring that Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) dams do not present unacceptable risks to public safety, prosperity, and welfare serves as a primary objective of Reclamation's Safety of Dams program. To help achieve this objective, hazard assessments are prepared. Included in the hazard assessment is a threat to life study which is used to estimate the loss of life for various hydrologic loading conditions and warning scenarios. These estimates, prepared both with and without the existing dam, are used to determine the incremental loss of life resulting from dam failure. The incremental analysis is then used to help establish the base safety condition which for a hydrologic loading is defined as the magnitude of inflow above which no significant incremental risk to life due to dam failure occurs. A corrective action study is performed, evaluating structural, nonstructural, or combination alternatives. Threat to life studies are conducted to determine if each corrective action alternative will yield the desired improvement in public safety.

Subject Headings: Public health and safety | Dam safety | Dam failures | Bureau of Reclamation | Failure analysis | Risk management | Structural safety | Disaster warning systems

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