Safety of Dams Program

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The Bureau of Reclamation oversees the operation of more than 70 dams in the Pacific Northwest. The Safety of Dams program was created in response to the failure of Teton Dam in 1976. Since then, Reclamation has embarked on a rigorous review of every major dam in the region. Each major structure is periodically reviewed for resistance to seismic stability, overtopping, internal stability, and physical deterioration. Long-term stability of the dam is our goal in order to save lives, protect property, and insure the physical integrity of what we build or maintain.

Comprehensive Reviews (CRs) are performed every eight years, and include participation from the Area Office, Regional Office, and Technical Service Center (TSC). CRs include not only a detailed on site examination, but they also look at changes in the state of the art, the loading conditions on the dam, downstream population, and an evaluation of the risks. Periodic Facility Review (PFRs) are performed every eight years by the Area and Regional Offices, midway between CRs and involves a detailed on site examination of the structures. Annual site inspections are conducted by the responsible Area Office in those years in which in which there is no CRs or PFRs.

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) have been developed and are annually updated for all high and significant hazard dams. Tabletop and functional exercises are performed for each dam every three and six years, respectively. Tabletop exercises entail an informal discussion of actions to be taken in an example emergency situation. Functional exercises practice a timed, emergency response to a simulated incident.


Christopher Regilski
Pacific Northwest Region Safety of Dams Coordinator
(208) 378-5335

Pacific Northwest Region
Bureau of Reclamation
1150 Curtis Road, Suite 100
Boise, Idaho 83706-1234

Last Update: 7/1/15