Dam Safety and Water Infrastructure Engineering

We Know Dams

Dams provide power, flood control, recreation, economic possibilities, drinking water, and many other advantages. Safe operation and maintenance are key to sustaining these advantages and avoiding potential disaster. Conducting dam safety inspections has been a core competency of Kleinschmidt’s since 1966, and in the past 5 years, we have completed more than 200 dam inspection projects. We have an experienced team of FERC qualified Independent Consultants who are well-qualified inspectors and facilitators that are able to address the risks associated with dams and the associated project features including spillways, gates, and structures.

Our dam engineers provide studies, inspections, and designs to meet the needs of today’s dam owners. We work with our clients to determine the most cost-effective means to help owners ensure the safety of their dams. Our extensive experience in identifying, studying, and preparing solutions to complex dam issues can provide you with peace of mind that your project is in the best hands.

Water Control/Dam Inspection and Design

Our dam engineers provide inspections, studies, and designs to meet the needs of today’s dam owners. Over the lifecycle of a project, solutions can involve determining the reasons for equipment inefficiency or failure, addressing safety issues, optimizing water usage for increased generation, modernization of existing civil structures, and meeting regulatory requirements such as permitting and Part 12 dam safety obligations, including delivery of emergency action plans and functional exercise services.

Water Control/Dam Inspection and Design Services Include:
  • Breach Analysis & Flood Maps
  • Safety Inspections & Evaluations
  • Gates
  • Rehabilitation Design

Spillway / Gate Inspection and Design

Can your dam gate be repaired or does it need to be replaced? What are the total up-front and operational costs associated with your project? How long will it take? Let us answer these questions for you and provide you with options that will be cost-effective and meet your requirements.

Safety concerns and economic risks of aging water control gates are common problems for many older dams. While the rehabilitation of existing gates share many technical aspects with new gate construction, it also presents special considerations and unique challenges. We provide our clients with comprehensive inspections, analysis, and design to assist with any gate/intake issues.

Spillway / Gate Inspection and Design Services Include:
  • Field Inspection & Evaluation
  • Structural Analysis & Design
  • Hoist & Lifting Design
  • Hydraulic Design
  • Electronic Gate Controls & Communications
  • Seal Design
  • Gate Heaters

Dam Safety Inspections and Monitoring

We routinely perform structural assessments and dam safety inspections to meet the owners’ internal audit requirements and federal, state, and provincial regulations. Our independent consultants have conducted hundreds of the highly regulated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Part 12 inspections, which require periodic evaluation of all water-retaining project facilities in the United States that may affect public safety if they were to fail (such as spillways, gates and foundations). For Canadian owners, we have conducted dam safety reviews in accordance with the Canadian Dam Association guidelines.

Conducting dam safety inspections has been a core competency since our inception in 1966, and in the past 5 years, we have completed more than 200 dam inspection projects. We obtain the information necessary to thoroughly understand the dam and its operations and perform analyses regarding safety of the structures. We have developed protocols and processes for inspections to provide for safety, efficiencies, and consistency.

Dam Safety Inspections and Monitoring Services Include:
  • Dam Inspections
  • Potential Failure Mode Analysis
  • Dam Safety Plans
  • Dam Engineering & Design
  • Dam Rehabilitation
  • Operations & Maintenance
  • Construction Services
  • Gate Inspection & Analysis
  • Spillway Inspections
  • Stability Analysis

Emergency Action Plans and Dam Breach Analysis

Extreme weather conditions and rain events can wreak havoc on dams and be a major cause of concern for local communities. Let us help you prepare. Our highly trained team of hydraulic engineers are well versed in understanding the nature of dams, especially during flood conditions. We have completed hundreds of emergency action plans (EAP), dam breach studies, and inundation mapping projects. Our engineers embrace the risk-informed decision-making process, using a suite of deterministic and probabilistic tools to inform clients of the risks associated with dam failures.  We combine geographic information system (GIS) mapping with breach modeling to provide a consistent platform that unifies both components. The ability to have this information available in a user-friendly map format assists our clients, emergency responders, and local officials in planning (e.g., building restrictions) and preparing EAP’s.

We facilitate EAP function exercises by providing exercise design, conducting community outreach with the potentially affected communities and response agencies to review their understanding of the projects, and designing emergency scenarios to test the coordination of complementary state and local emergency response agencies and their ability to respond to an emergency such as failure at the dams.

Emergency Action Plans and Dam Breach Analysis Services Include:
  • Preparation of Emergency Action Plans
  • Dam Breach Analysis
  • Inflow Design Flood Determinations
  • Hazard Classification Assessments
  • Inundation Mapping
  • Owner & Operator Emergency Action Plan Training
  • Facilitation & Reporting for Emergency Action Plans
  • Planning & Facilitation for Outreach Meetings with Emergency Responders

Hydrologic and Hydraulic (H&H) Modeling

Our hydrologic engineering experience includes developing new site-specific probable maximum flood (PMF) values and analyzing existing PMF conditions for dozens of projects throughout North America. We routinely revise flood frequency estimates for sites and apply hypothetical rainfall distributions in our hydrologic models. Our hydraulic engineers regularly perform hydraulic modeling and dam breach analyses to determine Inflow Design Flood (IDF) levels and hazard classifications. Our staff has completed hundreds of emergency action plans, dam breach studies, and inundation mapping projects.

By combining hydrologic models and hydraulic modeling, we help clients understand how the amount of runoff that enters rivers impacts their specific site locations. The results of the combined hydrologic and hydraulic models allow engineers to relay how the changes could impact operating procedures, generation capacity, or compliance adherence.

Our Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) utlilizes software programs such as HEC-HMS, HEC-RAS, HEC-ResSim, HECSSP, HEC-DSSVue, and our proprietary software McBreach.

Learn More about McBreach Software

Hydrologic and Hydraulic (H&H) Modeling Services Include:
  • Flood Flow Analysis
  • Watershed Analysis & Planning
  • Hydrologic Analysis
  • Hydrologic Modeling & Simulations
  • Sediment Transport
  • Flood Forecasting
  • Dam Design
  • Repairs & Safety Assessments
  • Hydraulic Analysis & Design
  • Hydraulic & Hydrology Training Courses

Dam Decommissioning and Removal

We have conducted more than 30 dam removal projects in nine states and one province for clients that include owners as well as public and private organizations. A complete alternatives analysis and cost-sensitive design requires access to a strong interdisciplinary mix of engineering, biology, and permitting expertise. Our  engineering expertise includes civil, geotechnical, and structural disciplines (dam stability and fish passage design); our biologists have nationally recognized expertise in fish migration and passage, fluvial geomorphology, aquatic habitat, water quality, wetlands and wildlife; and our permitting staff is experienced with NEPA, FERC, state and federal permitting requirements, has strong public outreach and stakeholder management skills, and possess excellent working relationships with regulatory and natural resource agencies, conservation groups, and other stakeholders.

Whether the decommissioning of your dam is primarily to restore fish passage or remove a structure that is no longer necessary, our team of experts has the experience and passion to work with you to make your project a success.

Click here to see the Lombard Dam Removal Project Time Lapse Video.

Dam Decommissioning and Removal Services Include:
  • Feasibility Studies including Alternative Analyses
  • Species Protection and Mitigation
  • Permitting
  • Construction Engineering Support
  • Aquatic Fisheries and Environmental Resource Studies
  • Dam Decommissioning and Stream Stabilization Design
  • FERC Decommissioning Plan Development
  • Pre/Post Removal Monitoring