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Technical Service Center
Emergency Management and GIS Group

Dam Safety Emergency Management

Historically, the focus of dam safety activities has been on ensuring the structural integrity of dams. Recently, however, the Bureau of Reclamation has also begun to focus on the need to coordinate and network with local jurisdictions that could be affected by flooding from large operational releases and/or failure of its dams. This effort results from a heightened awareness of the need for Reclamation to ensure that local authorities will be able to warn and evacuate populations located in inundation areas downstream from Reclamation dams.

In recognizing this need, specialists of the Emergency Management and GIS Group have developed an Emergency Management Orientation Seminar to better provide essential dam safety emergency management training for Reclamation personnel, for other Government agencies, and for the private sector.

Since 1991, this seminar has been conducted in several locations for various organizations, including the National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, and many State and local governmental agencies, as well as Reclamation personnel at the Technical Service Center and at regional and area offices.

Course Overview/Synopsis

The seminar is general in its approach to emergency management. It is primarily intended to provide very basic concepts and philosophies of emergency management and early warning systems, to provide a foundation for additional training and on-the-job experience.

The seminar attempts to answer questions such as:

The seminar attempts to answer these questions by providing:

Teamwork is necessary to conduct emergency exercises. Regular testing of EPPs/EAPs and early warning systems is critical in evaluating their effectiveness under emergency conditions. Therefore, an emergency orientation exercise is the culminating activity of the seminar. This activity is the most basic of emergency exercises and is intended to provide participants with a positive exercise experience and a perspective on:

Finally, the seminar will help participants to better understand the roles of State and local officials in the event of an emergency or unusual condition at a dam. EPPs/EAPs can then more easily be integrated with LEOPs, which will result in more effective coordination of the dam owner's emergency plans, procedures, and exercises with the downstream community's emergency plans, procedures, and exercises.


The seminar is conducted upon request only. One case in which it is particularly appropriate is prior to installation of an early warning system at one of Reclamation's high- or signficant-hazard dams. Please note, however, that the requesting office must provide funds to conduct the course.

To discuss specific proposals for conducting this training, please contact Grant Sorensen, Emergency Management and GIS Group, at 303-445-2775.