Dam Safety & Security

NYPA recognized for restoration work at Robert Moses plant

The New York Power Authority has been recognized for superior work practices related to the repair, restoration and resulting increased dam safety of the dam face at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant by the Western New York Chapter of the American Concrete Institute.

Construction engineer Marek Kobialka, accepted the award on behalf of partners NYPA, Crane Hogan Structural Systems, BVR Construction, LaFarge North America and Applus RTD.

NYPA said it earned the award for the quality of repair work over a 21,000-square-foot area of the Robert Moses dam face and “innovative practices” conducted in 2013-2014.

The 2,525-MW Robert Moses project recently underwent a US$298 million, 15-year upgrade program that added 32 MW to its overall output capacity.

The White Plains-based utility was also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to monitor greenhouse gas.

Dam safety reconsidered at 50th anniversary of two dam failures

June 8 marked the 50th anniversary of the Swift and Lower Two Medicine dam failures, which occurred on June 8, 1964, killing at least 28 people. The record-breaking flooding that caused the dam failure resulted from extremely heavy rainfall and the melting of high levels of snow in the mountains. The failure of Swift Dam, located west of Dupuyer, Montana, released approximately 30,000 acre-feet of water, while the Lower Two Medicine Dam near East Glacier Park had a capacity of 16,600 acre-feet of water.

“There are more 87,000 dams in the United States today and people across the country rely on them for drinking water, hydroelectric power and other important benefits. The anniversary of these dam failures serves as a reminder of the role we all have to play in creating a future where dams are safe,” said Lori Spragens, executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).

According to ASDSO’s data, there are 2,899 state-regulated dams in Montana, of which 105 are classified as high-hazard potential dams. The high-hazard potential classification indicates that a dam may cause loss of life if it were to fail.

Fortunately, good planning and improved dam safety programs at all levels of government have reduced the loss of life resulting from dam failures dramatically in recent years. To help protect lives and property in the event of a dam incident or failures, state dam safety program personnel work with dam owners to develop and to maintain emergency action plans.

As of 2013, 97 of the 105 high-hazard potential dams in Montana had an EAP.

According to a recent article in the Great Falls Tribune, Montana has also made physical repairs and improvements to its dams over the years to help keep the community safe. On June 17, during Montana Dam Safety Awareness Day at Ruby Dam, the state commemorated the 1964 failures, and Gov. Steve Bullock discussed the many improvements made to state dams since that time.

ASDSO encourages members of the public to determine if they live in a dam failure flood inundation zone by contacting their local emergency management agency or the state dam safety program. People who live near dams should establish an evacuation route before an emergency occurs and familiarize themselves with what to do during and after an emergency, such as not walking through moving water or driving into flooded areas.

More information on staying safe near dams can be found in ASDSO’s information guide, Living with Dams: Know your Risks, which the organization developed in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The guide is available at livingneardams.org.

Corps plans site stabilization work at Wolf Creek Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently sought bids for dam safety site stabilization work at 270-MW Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky. Identifying the earthfill and concrete gravity dam as critically near failure or having extremely high life or economic risk, the Corps awarded dam safety contracts in 2011 for a grout curtain at Wolf Creek, on the Cumberland River.

The Corps awarded Terracon Consultants Inc. a $5 million contract in 2013 for geotechnical engineering services at Wolf Creek and 135-MW Center Hill Dam in Tennessee. Also that year, the Corps poured the last of 1,200 concrete piles required to mitigate seepage through the karst geology deep in Wolf Creek Dam’s foundation.The Nashville District sought bids for site stabilization at the project, to include downstream berm regrading, a trench drain system, and tailwater piping removal. The work is valued at $1 million to $5 million.

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