Best Practices and Risk Methodology
The Bureau of Reclamation has been using risk analysis as the primary support for dam safety decision-making for about 15 years, and has developed procedures to analyze risks for a multitude of potential failure modes. Manuals, guidelines, standards, and practical reference material on how to perform risk analysis for dam safety applications are lacking. The Best Practices Training Manual contains what are considered the "Best Practices" currently in use for estimating dam safety risks at the Bureau of Reclamation. Risk analysis at the Bureau of Reclamation has evolved over the years and will continue to evolve. Therefore, updates to this manual are planned in the future as significant improvements are developed.
From the outset of implementing risk analysis, Reclamation recognized that procedures and data available for dam safety risk analysis, while quantitative, do not provide precise numerical results. Therefore, this manual strives to present useful information, tools, and techniques, while stopping short of a "cookbook" approach. This allows the risk analyst(s) to use the proper balance of engineering judgment and calculations in estimating risks, and to understand and "build the case" for what is influencing the risks the most. Thus, the numbers, while important, are less important than understanding and documenting what the major risk contributors are and why.
The Bureau of Reclamation conducts risk analysis at different levels, from screening level analyses performed by an individual (with peer review) during a Comprehensive Facility Review (CFR), to full blown facilitated team risk analyses, which include participation by field personnel. It is envisioned that the tools presented in this manual can be used for any level of risk analysis. The primary difference will be the level of detail to which the analyses are carried. These differences are noted where appropriate.
Contact for course information: Bill Fiedler (WFiedler@usbr.gov)
Best Practices ChaptersPlease note that these documents are intended to serve as instruction material during the training course of the same name and should not be used as a stand-alone reference. In many cases, additional details should be sought from the available references or an experienced risk analyst.
Last Updated: 08/09/2013
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