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21st Century Dam Design

Advances and Adaptations

31st Annual USSD Conference


San Diego, California, April 11-15, 2011

Hosted by
Black & Veatch Corporation
GEI Consultants, Inc.
Kleinfelder, Inc.
MWH Americas, Inc.
Parsons Water and Infrastructure Inc.
URS Corporation

On the Cover
Artist's rendition of San Vicente Dam after completion of the dam raise project to increase local storage and provide
a more flexible conveyance system for use during emergencies such as earthquakes that could curtail the regions
imported water supplies. The existing 220-foot-high dam, owned by the City of San Diego, will be raised by 117
feet to increase reservoir storage capacity by 152,000 acre-feet. The project will be the tallest dam raise in the
United States and tallest roller compacted concrete dam raise in the world.

U.S. Society on Dams


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resources;
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Internet: www.ussdams.org

ASSESSMENT METHOD FOR ROUTINE DAM SAFETY MONITORING


PROGRAMS
Jay N. Stateler1
ABSTRACT
The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) recently tasked a team, involving representatives
of all the DOI agencies that have dams, to look at quality control/quality assurance
issues with respect to routine dam safety monitoring. The team developed a Monitoring
Program Assessment Form (MPAF) that breaks the routine dam safety monitoring
process down into eight elements, with all but two of these elements further broken
down into sub-elements. Breaking the process down in this way allows a close and
careful evaluation of each of the building blocks of an effective routine dam safety
monitoring program. One area of the MPAF is used to document the approach currently
being used by the organization with respect to each element/sub-element so as to ensure
that it is being appropriately carried out/satisfied. Another area assesses whether the
current approach is apparently in need of significant improvement, and another area is
used to generate possible solutions to the apparent problems that are identified. To aid
assessments performed within DOI, the Team developed DOI Standards with respect to
all the elements/sub-elements. Also, weighting factors were developed for each of the
elements/sub-elements so that a quantitative rating between 0 and 100 could be
developed using the MPAF, if desired. While rather simple in concept, initial use of the
MPAF in the DOI agencies has proven it to be a powerful tool for: (1) pinpointing
problem areas in current routine dam safety monitoring work and approaches, and
(2) identifying possible solutions that are focused on the identified problem areas.
INTRODUCTION
The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) recently tasked a team to address the following
matter with respect to dam safety work: Develop processes to ensure monitoring is
being performed on schedule and is being properly evaluated/reported. The team
consisted of representatives of each of the DOI agencies that have responsibility for a
significant number of dams: Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Bureau of Indian Affairs
(BIA), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS), and Office of Surface Mining (OSM). Recommendations
developed by the Team needed to be applicable to small dams, like those owned and
operated by the majority of the DOI agencies, as well as to large dams, such as Hoover
and Grand Coulee Dams, that are operated by BOR. In other words, the results of the
Teams efforts needed to be scalable to all sizes of dams.
As the Team pursued its work, organizations outside DOI were contacted, and their
knowledge and experience regarding dam safety monitoring was utilized. These
organizations included: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, BC
1

Civil Engineer, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO, jstateler@usbr.gov

Routine Dam Safety Monitoring Programs

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Hydro, Pacific Gas and Electric, Arizona Public Service Company, and the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California.
MONTIORING PROGRAM ASSESSMENT FORM (MPAF)
The fundamental product/tool developed by the Team is the Monitoring Program
Assessment Form (MPAF), which is presented below:
Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)
Agency/Organization/Entity: ____________________________________________
Assessment by:
Date:
Elements and Sub-Elements of an
Approach
In Need of
Additional
Effective Monitoring Program
Currently
Significant
Tools,
(Maximum Points for this Element or
Being Used Improvement? Processes,
Sub-Element)
Etc. Needed
1. Monitoring program is appropriately
defined and communicated to operating
personnel
a. Monitoring program, including
monitoring frequencies and ranges of
expected performance, is developed
using potential failure mode analysis
and risk analysis (7)
b. Monitoring program
requirements are concisely
defined/presented (for ease of use and
understanding) (4)
c. Monitoring program
requirements, including ranges of
expected performance, are provided to
operating personnel (3)
2. Monitoring work is performed on
schedule (13)
3. Monitoring work is performed by
appropriately trained and qualified
personnel
a. Personnel have a good general
understanding of the basic principles of
dams and dam safety (3)
b. Personnel have a good general
understanding of the design issues and
dam safety concerns regarding their
dam(s) (4)

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations

Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)


Agency/Organization/Entity: ____________________________________________
Assessment by:
Date:
Elements and Sub-Elements of an
Approach
In Need of
Additional
Effective Monitoring Program
Currently
Significant
Tools,
(Maximum Points for this Element or
Being Used Improvement? Processes,
Sub-Element)
Etc. Needed
c. Personnel have a good
understanding of how to properly
obtain instrument readings and perform
routine visual inspections (4)
4. Monitoring work is performed
properly
a. Instrument readings are
properly obtained and routine visual
inspections are properly performed (4)
b. Personnel have access to
appropriate information and tools to
allow effective initial evaluations of
the data to be performed at the time
instrument readings are obtained (4)
c. Instrument readings are checked
as they are obtained for anomalies, and
re-checked as appropriate (5)
5. Monitoring work results are being
properly reported
a. Monitoring data are promptly
transmitted (5)
b. Anomalous visual observations
and/or instrument readings are
immediately reported, when
appropriate (7)
6. Monitoring data are evaluated in a
timely fashion (9)
7. Monitoring data are evaluated by
appropriately trained and qualified
personnel
a. Personnel have a good
understanding of the principles of dam
design and analysis (5)
b. Personnel have a good
understanding of the design issues and
dam safety concerns regarding their
dam(s) (6)
8. Monitoring data are properly
evaluated.

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Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)


Agency/Organization/Entity: ____________________________________________
Assessment by:
Date:
Elements and Sub-Elements of an
Approach
In Need of
Additional
Effective Monitoring Program
Currently
Significant
Tools,
(Maximum Points for this Element or
Being Used Improvement? Processes,
Sub-Element)
Etc. Needed
a. Personnel have access to
appropriate computer tools and
information to allow effective
evaluations to be performed (5)
b. Personnel effectively assess the
data for anomalies, including
undesirable gradual data trends (6)
c. Personnel appropriately alert
other personnel when anomalous data
are noted (6)
Total Points (100 is maximum)
Other Comments:
In the first column of the above Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF), the
routine dam safety monitoring process is broken down into eight elements, with all but
two of these elements further broken down into sub-elements. Breaking the process
down in this way allows a close and careful evaluation of each of the building blocks of
an effective routine dam safety monitoring program. The second column of the above
form is used to document the approach currently being used by the organization with
respect to each element and sub-element so as to ensure that it is being appropriately
carried out/satisfied. The third column assesses whether the current approach being used
is apparently in need of significant improvement, and the fourth column is used to
generate possible solutions to the apparent problems that are identified.
In some situations, it may be desirable to have the ability to develop quantitative ratings
via the MPAF. These might include tracking progress and improvements made over time
in a particular program, and allowing rough comparisons to be made regarding the
programs of different entities (within an organization or between organizations). To
accommodate this, weighting factors were developed for each of the sub-elements and for
the elements themselves that have no sub-elements. These appear as numbers in
parenthesis in the boxes in the first column of the MPAF. If everything about the routine
dam safety monitoring program is perfect, then the full amount of the weighting factor is
the score for each element and sub-element, and a total score of 100 is achieved. Where
problem areas are identified, appropriate reductions are made in the various weighting
factors (down potentially to a score of zero for that element or sub-element), and then
each of the element or sub-element scores are totaled to achieve a Routine Monitoring
Assessment Score (RMAS) that falls somewhere between 0 and 100. It is very important
to note that the MPAF can be very effectively used to identify problems and develop lists

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations

of possible solutions without employing this quantitative rating approach and developing
a RMAS. However, to reiterate, the ability to develop quantitative ratings may be a
useful capability in some circumstances (e.g. benchmarking).
ELEMENTS AND SUB-ELEMENTS OF THE MPAF
The figure below depicts the eight elements of the MPAF:

Element 1.- Monitoring program is appropriately defined and communicated to operating


personnel (14 points).- If the monitoring program is not appropriately developed,
considering the current potential failure modes for the dam and their risks, then all the
time and energy spent on the other aspects of the routine dam safety monitoring program
are compromised. Good execution of a poor plan is not a recipe for success. Similarly, a
well-developed plan that is not successfully communicated to the operating personnel
means that the benefits of the plan will not be realized. For facilities regulated by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a Surveillance and Monitoring Plan
(SMP) based on the results of a Potential Failure Mode Analysis (PFMA) clearly would
represent a monitoring program that has been developed using an appropriately rigorous
process.
Element 2.- Monitoring work is performed on schedule (13 points).- Obviously if the
specified monitoring is not carried out, then there is no routine dam safety monitoring
program.

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1545

Element 3.- Monitoring work is performed by appropriately trained and qualified


personnel (11 points).- For effective instrumented monitoring, data collection and
instrument maintenance need to be properly performed so that valid, representative data
are collected. No data is better than invalid data, because at least one is not being misled.
In the area of visual inspection work, training and experience are important with respect
to knowing what to look for (which may require effort and searching to see/find), and
knowing how to interpret what is seen. Unlike instrumentation data, numerically
defining unexpected versus expected monitoring information is not possible regarding
visual inspection information, so having knowledge about normal/abnormal dam
performance is vital.
Element 4.- Monitoring work is performed properly (13 points).- It is one thing to have
received the appropriate training. It is another to actually execute properly. Obviously
proper execution is fundamental to an effective routine dam safety monitoring program,
and improper execution makes qualifications and training received of little relevance.
Element 5.- Monitoring work results are being properly reported (12 points).- For
instrument readings, typically the raw data collected at the damsite needs to be
processed to produce the desired information (in engineering units). Until this is done,
benefits from the monitoring efforts regarding these instruments are not obtained. If
there is anomalous data, obviously it would be highly desirable to recognize the
anomalous instrumentation data quickly, so that appropriate follow-on activities can be
instituted promptly. For visual monitoring, it is strongly preferred to have immediate
communication regarding anomalous observations (rather than processing the data
through the normal pipeline), so that the appropriate follow-on activities can be instituted
promptly. In some instances, the time between the first indication of anomalous dam
performance and ultimate dam failure may not be very long.
Element 6.- Monitoring data are evaluated in a timely fashion (9 points).- In a similar
vein to the discussion in Element 5, prompt data review may be crucial. Particularly
regarding instrumentation data, until the data is processed and reviewed, the benefits of
the monitoring work probably have not been obtained.
Element 7.- Monitoring data are evaluated by appropriately trained and qualified
personnel (11 points).- Relative to instrumentation data, being able to hone in on that
which is crucially important is vital, and requires knowledge of dams in general, and the
specific circumstances of the dam in question. With respect to visual monitoring
information, the dam safety training of the evaluation personnel typically exceeds that of
the data-gathering personnel, and can therefore help in the assessment and response to
unusual observations.
Element 8.- Monitoring data are properly evaluated (17 points).- In the same vein as
Element 4, it is one thing to have received the appropriate training, and it is another to
actually execute properly. Obviously proper execution of the data evaluation role is
fundamental to an effective routine dam safety monitoring program, and improper
execution makes qualifications and training received of little relevance.

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations

It is apparent from the above discussion that assigning weighting points to the above
elements is difficult, to put it mildly, since failure regarding just one of the elements can
in some instances wreck the entire monitoring effort and nullify all the benefits that could
potentially be obtained. In a sense, the elements/sub-elements might be more
appropriately viewed as a chain, where the ultimate strength and value of the chain may
be determined by its weakest link.
EXAMPLE USE OF THE MPAF
To illustrate the use of the MPAF, the initial assessments made of the Bureau of
Reclamations routine dam safety monitoring program by a team of Reclamation
personnel in 2010 is presented below. For conciseness, the entire MPAF is not presented,
but only the results for several of the more interesting elements/sub-elements.
Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)
Agency: Bureau of Reclamation
Date: February 17, 2010
Assessment Prepared by Jay Stateler, based on input received during four 1-hour
conference calls from a team of Reclamation personnel.
Elements and
Approach Currently In Need of
Additional Tools,
Sub-Elements
Being Used
Significant
Processes, Etc. Needed
(Maximum
Improvement?
Points)
1. Monitoring The Schedule of
Yes.
An expedited procedure
program is
Periodic Monitoring Currently
for getting L-23s and
appropriately
(L-23) and the
SOPs often
OVICs incorporated in
defined and
Ongoing Visual
have out-ofSOPs (within 90 days)
communicated Inspection Checklist date
could be required in the
to operating
(OVIC) are
information.
Reclamation Manual.
personnel:
incorporated in the
(0) A component could be
c. Monitoring Standing Operating
added to the Facility
program
Procedures (SOP)
Reliability Rating (FRR)
requirements,
document for the
associated with the SOP
including
dam.
having the current L-23
ranges of
and OVIC. (The FRR is a
expected
quantitative rating method
performance,
for scoring the current
are provided to
status of all efforts for a
operating
dam - operational,
personnel (3)
maintenance, dam safety,
etc.)

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Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)


Agency: Bureau of Reclamation
Date: February 17, 2010
Assessment Prepared by Jay Stateler, based on input received during four 1-hour
conference calls from a team of Reclamation personnel.
Elements and
Approach Currently In Need of
Additional Tools,
Sub-Elements
Being Used
Significant
Processes, Etc. Needed
(Maximum
Improvement?
Points)
Yes.
Increased weighting
2. Monitoring
Oversight by
However, for could be provided for the
work is
BOR Area Office
performed on
(AO) personnel (and the most part, component of FRR
associated with performing
schedule (13) occasional checks by monitoring
breakdowns
monitoring on schedule.
86-68360, the
The Data Tracker
Instrumentation and tend to be
program could be reInspections Group in associated
with some
vamped and expanded
Denver.
special or
(including 86-68360
Report on
unique
process changes) to allow
Infrequently Read
circumstance, real-time feedback on
Instruments (IRI)
rather than a
monitoring program status.
(less frequent than
general lack
Quarterly informal
annual) due to be
of program
feedback effort could be
read in the coming
execution.
expanded to highlight IRI
year prepared each
(10) monitoring, and this effort
January.
could be more closely
Quarterly reports
tracked to ensure its full
on delinquent data
and satisfactory execution.
provided to all
More
involved parties,
emphasis/discussion could
including the Dam
be provided on the
Safety Office
quarterly delinquent data
(DSO).
report results for the past
Quarterly
year at the time of the
informal feedback
Annual Dam Safety
reports include this
Meetings (for each BOR
topic.
region).
Preparation and
More
discussion in Annual
emphasis/discussion on
Dam Safety Report
this topic could be
(for each BOR
provided during dam safety
region).
training activities.
FRR has a
component
regarding this.
Dam safety
training touches on
this topic.

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations

Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF)


Agency: Bureau of Reclamation
Date: February 17, 2010
Assessment Prepared by Jay Stateler, based on input received during four 1-hour
conference calls from a team of Reclamation personnel.
Elements and
Approach Currently In Need of
Additional Tools,
Sub-Elements
Being Used
Significant
Processes, Etc. Needed
(Maximum
Improvement?
Points)
3. Monitoring
Training
Yes. The
On-site training is
work is
requirements for all principal issue currently required in the
performed by
dam operators
is when a dam Reclamation Manual to
appropriately
include on-site dam operator
occur as soon as practical
trained and
(within a few months per
tender training at
leaves and a
qualified
least every 6 years.
new dam
FAC 02-01), though this
personnel:
operator
may not always happen.
b. Personnel
Within 90 days might be
comes
have a good
onboard. It
a more appropriate
general
requirement, with the
may take
understanding
some time
understanding that the
of the design
before on-site normal in-person on-site
issues and dam
dam tender
training would be
safety concerns
preferred, but training
training can
regarding their
using videoconferencing, a
be
dam(s) (4)
accomplished telephone conference call,
for the new
etc. for portions of the
dam operator. training may be employed
(3.5) when this represents the
only realistic way to
promptly provide the
needed training.
The FRR currently does
include points for dam
operator training, though
the weighting in the FRR
for this could be increased,
due to the importance of
this training.
While some of the information in the above table is a bit cryptic, and fully understandable
only to Reclamation personnel, the table illustrates the use of the MPAF by one
organization. As indicated in the above table, none of the three elements/sub-elements
shown achieved the maximum points available, with sub-element 1.c. scoring zero out of
a possible 3 points. Clearly this indicates an area where some action should be taken.

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DOI STANDARDS AND EXAMPLES


To aid assessments performed within DOI, the Team developed Department of the
Interior Standards with respect to each of the elements and sub-elements in the MPAF.
Necessarily, many of the standards are not concrete in nature; however, they attempt to
set the bar appropriately. Additionally, along with the standards, examples illustrating
possible ways the standards could be met also were developed. The examples are
intended to aid efforts to reach the standards presented. Standards and examples for two
elements/sub-elements are presented below, for illustration purposes:
Monitoring Program Assessment Form Standards and Examples Relative to the
Elements and Sub-Elements
Elements and SubStandards and Examples Relative the Elements and SubElements
Elements
2. Monitoring work is
Standard: Monitoring work is to be performed per the
performed on schedule. stated requirements, and sufficient oversight of the work
is to occur to ensure its proper execution.
Examples of methods that could be used to achieve the
Standard:
1. Manual tracking of monitoring work performance on
forms, charts, etc.
2. Computerized tracking of monitoring work
performance. E-mails could be automatically generated
regarding overdue work. (Note: Reclamations Data
Tracker program could be re-vamped and expanded
(including process changes in Reclamations
Instrumentation and Inspections Group) to allow real-time
feedback on monitoring program status. It could record
the following dates: (a) when readings/monitoring was
performed, (b) when the data was received by
Reclamations Instrumentation and Inspections Group, (c)
when the data was entered into the instrumentation
computer system, (d) when the Engineering Technician
completed work regarding the data, and (e) when the
Engineer completed reviews of the data. The program
could monitor instrument reading schedules and time
intervals between completing milestones, and send e-mail
alerts, post messages, etc. with respect to overdue work.)
3. Discussions regarding performance of monitoring
work are performed as necessary and appropriate. These
could occur at the time of Annual Inspections,
Intermediate Exams, on-site dam tender training, etc.
4. Quarterly or semi-annual reports that allow effective
oversight of the monitoring work.

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations

Monitoring Program Assessment Form Standards and Examples Relative to the


Elements and Sub-Elements
Elements and SubStandards and Examples Relative the Elements and SubElements
Elements
4. Monitoring work is
Standard: Operating personnel are to have access to
performed properly:
ranges of expected performance for all instruments at the
b. Personnel have
time instrument readings are obtained.
access to appropriate
Examples:
information and tools 1. Charts, tables, etc.
to allow effective
2. Readings and other pertinent information (date,
initial evaluations of
reservoir elevation, etc.) are entered into a hand-held data
the data to be performed collection unit at the time instrument readings are
at the time instrument
obtained, and the unit provides an immediate check
readings are obtained
relative to expected performance limits.
3. A spreadsheet is available that can compute the
expected performance limits for all instruments at the
damsite in the units the instruments will be read in (e.g.
expected depths to water for standpipe piezometers).
When data is to be collected, personnel enter the current
reservoir level and other pertinent information into the
spreadsheet so the spreadsheet can compute the expected
performance limits for all the instruments for the current
situation at the damsite, and then the actual readings taken
can be compared to this information for an instant check
for anomalous readings.
INITIAL MPAF USE IN DOI
Each of the DOI Team members used the MPAF to perform an initial
evaluation/assessment of their respective agencys routine dam safety monitoring
program, in some instances incorporating input from a group or team of agency
personnel. Looking at the results of these MPAF evaluation efforts, and focusing on the
area of possible solutions to identified issues/problem areas (column 4 on the MPAF
forms), some common ground was evident where future collaboration and/or pooling
of resources among DOI agencies may be appropriate and beneficial. Also, the Team
recommended that formal MPAF assessments occur at least every 5 years for all DOI
agencies, and preferably every 3 years.
For illustration purposes in this paper, the issues/problem areas noted for Reclamation
will be discussed. The most significant problem area identified is that, while
Reclamation has good processes in place to develop and document an appropriate routine
dam safety monitoring program, it sometimes can take an excessive amount of time for
the associated forms (Schedule for Periodic Monitoring (L-23) and Ongoing Visual
Inspection Checklist (OVIC)) to actually be updated in the Standing Operating
Procedures (SOP) that dam operating personnel use as the operating manual for the dam.
It is not uncommon during onsite dam operator training activities to open the SOP and

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see L-23 and OVIC forms that have been superseded, perhaps one or more years ago.
This creates a problem for operating personnel since they are required to follow the SOP,
yet they know the monitoring documents in the SOP are not current. Other significant
BOR problem areas that were noted involved achieving timely training of new dam
operating personnel (within a short time after they start) and performing visual
inspections and obtaining instrument readings as close to the L-23 requirements as
realistically possible. Regarding this latter item, performance generally is quite good, but
room for improvement definitely exists. The RMAS score from the initial evaluation of
Reclamation was 90.0.
It is important to note that use of the MPAF can identify issues/problem areas, and
possible actions to take with respect to them, but actually implementing actions typically
is an issue for management personnel, since expenditures are typically involved, new
processes may be needed, choices among alternative possible approaches may need to be
made, etc.
CONCLUSIONS
Dam safety programs rely on routine dam safety monitoring efforts to provide timely
detection and recognition of anomalous dam performance, in a timeframe that allows a
response such that dam failure can be avoided. The Monitoring Program Assessment
Form (MPAF) was created as a collective effort by DOI agencies to provide a convenient
vehicle for evaluating the routine dam safety performance monitoring program of an
organization, looking for the weak links in the chain of the program. While rather simple
in concept, initial use of the MPAF in the DOI agencies has proven it to be a powerful
tool for: (1) pinpointing problem areas in current routine dam safety monitoring work and
approaches, and (2) identifying possible solutions that are focused on the identified
problem areas. The MPAF is applicable for any size dam, as the basic elements of an
effective routine dam safety monitoring are the same, regardless of dam size.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The members of the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Team that worked to develop the
Monitoring Program Assessment Form (MPAF) and associated DOI standards, besides
the author of this paper, are as follows:
Brad Iarossi, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Pearl Chamberlain, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
Yulan Jin, BIA
Mike Montgomery, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Dennis Clark, Office of Surface Mining (OSM)
Nathan Tatum, National Park Service (NPS)
Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) personnel that contributed significantly to the
development of the MPAF through initial use of the form relative to BORs routine dam
safety monitoring program are as follows: Jim Dean, Scott Foster, Jeff Nettleton, Matt
Gappa, Clyde Thomas, Rick Scott, and Bill Dutton.

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21st Century Dam Design Advances and Adaptations