2017 CEE Risk Management Symposium: Oroville Dam Incident – Implications for Dam Safety and Community Resilience

The Oroville Dam Incident: Insights and Implications for Risk Management and Community Resilience

Symposium Speakers

Professor Martin McCann

Adjunct Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Director of the National Performance of Dams Program

Mr. Tony Bennett

Ontario Power Generation
Director of Dam and Public Safety
Ontario, Canada

Professor Dennis Mileti

Professor Emeritus
University of Colorado

Mr. Steve Verigin

Senior Vice President, GEI Consultants, Inc.
(formerly Chief of the California Division of Safety of Dams)

The spillway incident at Oroville Dam captured the world’s attention in February as pictures and video showed flows over the main and auxiliary spillways and the damage to both structures. Equally compelling was the sight of residents evacuating the downstream area following the evacuation order and the announcement of ‘Imminent Failure of Auxiliary Spillway on Oroville Dam!’ As policy makers, dam safety professionals, and communities look ahead, questions arise as to where do we go from here? What lessons can be learned and translated into improved dam safety practices and support for communities
In 2012 the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences published are report entitled, “Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice.” Resilience is typically defined as the ability of a system (a community) to absorb disturbance and quickly return to normal (or a new normal) while maintaining its identity and ability to function. Experience provides evidence that building community resilience through preparedness, risk communication, response and recovery planning, and adaptation substantially reduces short-term and long-term impact of major disruptions and disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked the National Academy with looking at how dam and levee safety programs can be broadened to include community- and regional-level preparation, response, mitigation, and recovery from potential infrastructure failure. The study looked at:

  • Systematic approaches to safety analysis, looking at the links between the engineering aspects of safety and the risks to communities and other stakeholders and how mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery can be incorporated into safety programs to enhance long-term community- and regional-level resilience.
  • Practices for identifying local and regional stakeholders, and for collecting and disseminating information among them about dam related risks.
  • Decision-making and decision-support systems that are used in dam safety and how they might be used to improve community- and regional-level resilience against the primary (e.g., inundation) and secondary impacts (e.g., regional power loss) of infrastructure failure.
  • Means to incorporate stakeholder input into the design of safety and communication decision processes.

The recommendations of the National Academy report are particularly relevant in the wake of the Oroville incident and its impact on downstream communities.

Date/Time and Location Information:

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 3:30 – 5:15pm
Stanford University
Building/Room: Shriram Center, Room 104
(Parking is available just up the street in the Via Ortega Garage, or further up the street in the Roble Garage)

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