Work Shop - Dam Ownership

 

DAM OWNERSHIP:

The ownership, management, and operation of dams regardless of type, size, and hazard classification requires multiple disciplines typically including:

Engineer for performing general structural design, land surveys, and structural consulting.

Consultants for specialty dam work the engineer does not have in-house capability, expertise, or experience.

Mechanical Services Contractor for performing vital mechanical maintenance tasks such as lubricating and periodically operating gates, valves, manual, electric, and electro-hydraulic operators, maintaining walkway railings, safety equipment, access ladders, overhead lifts, cables, elevators, man lifts, etc.

Land Maintenance Contractor for performing land based maintenance tasks such as maintaining dam banks, slopes, crests, access areas, vegetation and rodent control, security, etc. 

Construction Contractor for performing repairs to concrete control structures, outlet structures, aprons, spillways, etc., such as spall and crack repairs, joint sealing, debris removal, bank stabilization maintenance, etc. 

Construction Contractor for work not performed directly by the construction contractor. 

Diving Company for performing underwater inspections, maintenance, and repairs to structural surfaces, operators, stems, guides, gates, trash racks, intakes, etc. It's important to note that any divers and dive team members used for underwater work must be OSHA compliant and ACDE/NATTS trained and qualified ''commercial divers'' with a dive team composed of at least a three man surface supplied dive team. Safety is of utmost importance. Dams often require additional personnel due to significant differential pressures associated with underwater work on dams. Gone are the days when someone calls their buddy, rescue dept. diver, or SCUBA shop sport diver with recreational certifications such as NAUI, PADI, YMCA, and CMAS to do work on dams. Due to the severe injuries and deaths reported over the years, OSHA is now very aggressive in the identification and assessment of penalties and can impose heavy first time fines. Dam owners should not further expose themselves to legal liability in the event an unqualified diver or a member of an unqualified dive team is injured or worse working on your dam. Utilities and dams account for more inland diver fatalities than any other type work. The GOE management team proudly maintains their PERFECT safety record for over 29 years with no injuries or fatalities which is the best safety record in the industry.

As industry professionals we are notified through periodic advisories of industry and other injuries and fatalities and we have seen first hand the abandoned diving equipment left in front of intake structures and inside conduits by unqualified divers who had apparently panicked and left their diving gear on the bottom. This can also create mechanical problems by fouling gates and valves when opened preventing them from closing again.

Conduit Inspection Contractor for performing DEP compliant video inspection of various size inlet, intermediate, and outlet conduits that cannot be performed by a trained inspector safely walking or crawling through the conduits. Conduit inspections performed either by an inspection team or remote inspection vehicle (RIV) can be very challenging due to a variety of factors such as small diameters, extended lengths, sharp turns, air contamination, restrictions, deflections and partial collapses, junctions, interchanges, underwater & above water transitions, pipe diameter transitions, seepage, etc. Additionally there are a variety of factors that could interfere with inspection data acquisition such as heavy corrosion on the inside surfaces, pipe perforations, intrusion of fill material, partial or complete collapses, water flows from seepage, sediments and other fouling, etc. Note the above term ''DEP compliant'' which is important to consider as many video inspection end products do not meet DEP technical requirements and are sent back to the dam owner to be re-inspected which is the last thing any dam owner wants to do so dam owners should be confident in the experience and capability of their dam program and management firm & their understanding with DEP data acquisition requirements so conduit inspections are done right the first time. The inspection of conduits are one of the more important inspection elements of DEP.

Dams, especially smaller ones may not look it but they are Dams, especially smaller ones may not look it but they are complex multi-component facilities. Periodic dam inspection is essential. A good inspection starts with qualified people, good equipment and an experienced company but that's only a small part of an overall dam management program. Ideally, engaging a firm offering comprehensive all-inclusive services is essential to reducing overall costs. A dam owner will achieve maximum cost effectiveness by engaging a company that can handle all facets of dam management and operation including not only annual and interim inspections but routine maintenance, repair, construction, structural modification, design, consulting, and a full range of professional and technical services on land and underwater. After all, dam facilities include land, above water and underwater elements so it makes sense to work with a firm that does it all in-house so these various elements do not have to be contracted or subcontracted separately. besides saving the dam owner money and other valuable resources, there are other advantages of working with the multi-discipline dam services firm GOE beginning with simplified communication. With GOE, there is one contact person for the entire dam ownership and operation program so time and expense is not wasted on communicating, coordinating, and administration between multiple companies either pier to pier or with sub consultants and contractors. With the
multi-discipline firm GOE, all your information
is consolidated and kept under one roof where all multi-discipline operations can be quickly referenced and utilized in-house. We've all herd it before - time is money and this is especially true when the dam owner pays for redundant overhead, profits, management, administration, and other expenses by having more than one company engaged with your dam operation program. GOE
is unique in that we offer a truly comprehensive service package for all dam owners from simple to and complex multi-empoundment/component facilities. Periodic dam inspection is essential. A good inspection starts with qualified people, good equipment and an experienced company but that's only a small part of an overall dam management program. Ideally, engaging a firm offering comprehensive all-inclusive services is essential to reducing overall costs. A dam owner will achieve maximum cost effectiveness by engaging a company that can handle all facets of dam management and operation including not only annual and interim inspections but routine maintenance, repair, construction, structural modification, design, consulting, and a full range of professional and technical services on land and underwater. After all, dam facilities include land, above water and underwater elements so it makes sense to work with a firm that does it all in-house so these various elements do not have to be contracted or subcontracted separately. besides saving the dam owner money and other valuable resources, there are other advantages of working with the multi-discipline dam services firm GOE beginning with simplified communication. With GOE, there is one contact person for the entire dam ownership and operation program so time and expense is not wasted on communicating, coordinating, and administration between multiple companies either pier to pier or with sub consultants and contractors. With the

multi-discipline firm GOE, all your information
is consolidated and kept under one roof where all multi-discipline operations can be quickly referenced and utilized in-house. We've all herd it before - time is money and this is especially true when the dam owner pays for redundant overhead, profits, management, administration, and other expenses by having more than one company engaged with your dam operation program. GOE is unique in that we offer a truly comprehensive service package to all dam owners.

DAM INVENTORIES:

There are more that 3,200 dams in Pennsylvania alone - most of which are privately owed and others have yet to be identified. All dams require periodic inspection, maintenance, repair, and sometimes structural modifications maintain the structure and
to comply with regulatory standards. Many more dams are not on the Pennsylvania DEP inventory list, were built without DEP permits and possibly improperly designed. It's easy to forget that dam structures are at the heart of the beautiful lakes throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation and that they require periodic attention.

CLASS AND HAZARD CLASSIFICATIONS:

Dams are generally categorized according to class and hazard potential listed below:

CLASS:

A - Equal or greater than 50,000 acre ft.
B - Less than 50,000 but more than 1,000 acre ft.
C - Equal or less than 1,000 acre ft.

HAZARD CLASSIFICATION:

1 - Substantial loss of life and extensive residential, commercial, and agricultural damage with substantial public inconvenience.

2 - Few loss of life and limited residential, commercial, and agricultural damage with moderate public inconvenience.

[2] 3 - Few loss of life to non rural or urban developments or habitable structures and appreciable significant damage to private
and public property with short duration public inconvenience.

[3] 4 - No loss of life expected and minimal damage to undeveloped or occasional structures with no significant effect on public inconvenience.

DAM INSPECTION:

There are numerous dam types and many more designs limited only by the application and imagination of the designer. Each one is unique in it's own way and there some very impressive, ingenious, and creative designs responding to various demands of the project and others... well... sometimes they just leave you standing there saying what the heck were they thinking. This is why DEP has regulations and the huge responsibility for dam safety. Put yourself in their shoes - there's thousands of dams out there, they don't know where all of them are, their type, size, or hazard classification, if they are being inspected or maintained or if they are about to fail and if one does, DEP will share the blame. We have inspected dams which the dam owners could not even remember the last time if any were inspected. In many cases they never were since they were constructed and the entire intake pipe and structures were found to be completely buried in sediments and debris along with the outlet conduits. Our divers had to excavate lake beds just to find the intakes. In one case the dam intake structure was completely buried in 10 ft. of riprap stone by a construction contractor installing the stone as bank stabilization. Needless to say all this stone had to be removed for the inspection
and then put back to maintain bank stability
until a redesign of the intake structure could be completed. There are many issues out there regarding dam inspections and we understand the dam owners point of view concerning the cost of inspection and operation and some of the unwanted responsibilities that go along with it however try to understand that proper dam operation and DEP compliance results in inherent liability protection to the dam owner from failure and downstream property damage or loss of life. Imagine the ultimate cost of those law suits. Every component of the dam regardless of design type must be inspected closely and reported problems must be monitored for change at recommended intervals. Problems can escalate quickly especially when exposed to unusual stresses due to existing structural deficiency, unusual weather and environmental conditions. Dams can fail quickly so all elements of a dam must be properly inspected.

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR:

Maintenance stems from and is closely related to inspections. Dams like every structure or facility deteriorate without maintenance. Dams must be properly maintained. Periodic maintenance keeps dams operating. Each dam requires it's own unique maintenance tasks depending on type and design but all require a maintenance program, ex: Concrete surfaces exhibiting defects such as construction joint separations are sealed, cracks monitored for movement and filled, small and medium spalls patched, large spalls formed and poured and larger structural defects addressed accordingly. Steel elements are cleaned and coated, reinforced or replaced if required. Wood elements are treated, repaired, spliced, replaced. Stone masonry elements re-pointed, reset or replaced. Underwater Intake pipes, structures, and trash racks periodically cleared of sediments and debris, Outlet conduits kept clear and functional, gates, valves, planking, etc., cleaned and adjusted, guides secured, stems aligned, operators lubricated, and spillways cleaned. land and ground maintenance may include vegetation and possible rodent and rodent damage control to earth portions of a dam, maintaining access drives, paths, security gates and postings. In some cases the dam owner or their maintenance staff can perform some of these land based maintenance tasks however structural and mechanical tasks should be performed by experienced personnel by an experienced company. We have seen many cases where dam owners and inspection engineers have damaged the mechanical components of dams attempting to cycle valves or gates without knowing the maintenance history of the dams being inspected. All to often this is when hidden or neglected mechanical and structural problems with the dam come to light, and at this point emergency calls are usually made in attempts to solve the problem.

You can see just from the above general maintenance overview there is much to do however if a dam is properly maintained from the beginning the costs of maintenance are periodically light through regularly scheduled minor tasks addressing and getting ahead of issues before they become larger problems requiring heavier maintenance or repair efforts and costs. A dam owner's biggest problem by far is when their dam(s) have not been periodically maintained over time. An inspection is eventually performed and suddenly they are faced with significant design fees, and numerous expensive repairs mandated by DEP. At this point a dam owner has generally two options, either make the repairs or breach the dam - and let's face it, breaching is not an option for individuals concerned with obvious water front/view amenities and property values especially
when lakes are part of a community or used
for water supply. Depending on the type and nature of the repairs, DEP may at it's own discretion give the dam owner time to submit a repair plan. High priority or critical repairs will have to be done immediately. DEP is not particularly concerned with the dam owner's financial capability to pay for the required repairs nor should they be. They do however expect the repairs to be made so the dam is operational and safe. Remember DEP is a regulatory agency in charge with establishing and enforcing dam safety standards... period. As long as dam owners do their part interaction with DEP will be very minimal and painless.

STRUCTURAL MODIFICATION:

There are times in the life span of some dams when structural modifications are required through necessary improvements, reconstruction, and compliance with new or updated design standards. DEP has updated it's probable maximum flood (PMF) standards resulting in many existing dams no longer being in compliance with the revised standards. Existing dams are not grandfathered and modifications must be made to bring all existing dams into compliance. This is generally no small task and costs could be significant. Once again depending on the type and extent of the reconstruction, DEP may at it's own discretion give the dam owner time to submit a repair plan. From our experience in cases such as these, DEP recognizes the potential significant costs associated with compliance with the revised standard and they are generally willing to work with dam owners in scheduling and planning reasonable structural modification plans however If DEP is under the impression that a dam owner is not acting in good faith through ignoring correspondence, continued delays, excuses, opposition, etc., the dam owner may unfortunately experience the power of government by getting a dam breach letter. Once a dam owner receives a notice like this there is no negotiating or turning back. The decision has been made and the dam will be breached within the time stated. No more lake. The simple way to avoid this is by acting in good faith. Develop a detailed project plan, submit your plan to DEP for consideration and approval, keep the lines of communication open, and show continued progress in achieving project milestones. It's that simple.

DEP ENFORCEMENT:

Many dams throughout Pennsylvania and the region were built without DEP permits and designed improperly by developers and others unfamiliar with design requirements. In short, dam owners are in violation of DEP regulations if their dams are not in compliance with inspection, maintenance, and design standards. The last thing you want to receive from the DEP is a fine or dam breach letter for not being in compliance with the standards.

Dam owners throughout Pennsylvania and the region are under pressure to bring their Dam facilities in compliance with updated DEP probable maximum flood (PMF) standards as well as ensuring that each dam facility is being properly inspected and maintained. The DEP enforcement efforts have sharply increased overall resulting in imposition of penalties upon dam owner violators as well as an increase in targeted compliance efforts. The DEP audit of July 1, 2002 to September 18, 2006 found that an astonishing 75% of the state's high-hazard dams (ones that could cause deaths downstream if they failed) were operating without adequate emergency plans detailing how residents will be informed and evacuated if a dam breaks or overflows. This is more important now than ever considering changes in weather patterns, higher percentages of severe storms and other environmental factors. DEP recognizes this and is taking these enforcement steps to make every attempt to get ahead of potential problems and liabilities associated with dam deficiencies and owner responsibility. GOE has been at the forefront of dam inspection, maintenance, repair, construction, structural modification, and related technical and professional services for over 28 years and is highly respected by Pennsylvania DEP, DCNR, and other agencies responsible for governance of dams throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Country as well as being the leader in design, structural modification, and construction innovation techniques reducing PMF compliance costs. GOE offers unique cost effective solution packages specific to each dam owner's needs.

CLOSING:

GOE offers complete cost effective dam service packages to our clients. GOE is unique in that we provide dam owners with our in-house land, marine, and underwater - professional, technical, and financial solution packages to fit your individual needs from small to large projects... truly comprehensive.

We're confident that you will see the advantage of adopting a GOE dams program designed specifically for you whether you're considering a program for the first time or wish to make the transition to GOE, we can help. Feel free to contact our Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Project Manager Rich Coppola anytime

Contact us for Free Consultation.

855.GOE.DAMS (3267)

Care and Conservation of Dams - Part 1
Care and Conservation of Dams - Part 2


Maintained Crest

.
Spillway and Notch.


Downstream side of spillway. Note horizontal
cracking.


Energy Dissipaters.


Retaining wall. Note patching repairs.


Custom Rodent damage to dam crest.


Gate control structure.


Accessing the control tower.


Gate operator and stem replacement.


View from inside the outlet conduit.


Outlet Structure.


Typical Crest access gate.


Gate seepage.

 
Dam Control Tower.


Operator hoist head servicing.


Application of corrosion control coatings.


ROV for inspection of small submerged conduits.



Year-round marine and underwater services.
Yes... that's ice.


Winter inspection.


Broken underwater stem guide wall bracket.


Corroded and broken connecting bolts.


Corroded and broken trash rack bracket.


Submerged stem guide.


Underwater welding of tower supports.


Bent stem.


Inspecting the control structure.


Corroded and missing wall bracket bolts.


New wall bracket and stem guide.


New aluminum tower access cover with lock.


Downstream control type valve.


Gate fouled with corrosion and sediments.


Broken operating valve.


Shallow water excavation of lakebed sediments.


Custom fabricated valve blank plate.


Small diameter conduit inspection crawler.


View of conduit obstruction.


Obstruction materials removed


Intake pipe with no trash cage or screen. Pipe
and surrounding area have been cleaned of
debris.


Intake pipe with custom made trash screen
installed made from structural fiberglass and
stainless hardware. This will never corrode.