The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Dam Safety Program uses a risk-informed approach to manage its portfolio of 694 dams, with public safety the number one priority. This robust risk-informed approach is a best practice adopted to develop balanced and informed assessments of the safety of our dams and to evaluate, prioritize and justify dam safety decisions. Critical to an effective safety program is, of course, the focus on public safety, but it also requires continuous and periodic project inspections and evaluations. The Dam Safety Program seeks to ensure that USACE owned and operated dams do not present unacceptable risks to people, property, or the environment, with the emphasis on people. USACE has learned a great deal about its dams through an initial screening of its portfolio. More importantly, however, are the lessons we learn about how to continually adjust and fine tune the program.
The objective of the Corps’ Dam Safety Program is to maintain public safety, make Corps dams safer and minimize risks. Since 2007, the Corps has used a risk-informed process to prioritize addressing dam safety deficiencies on a nationwide basis. What’s new is how we assess our dams and are incorporating risk management concepts into dam safety management, routine activities and programming decisions.