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Training Aids for Dam Safety (TADS)

What is TADS?

TRAINING AIDS FOR DAM SAFETY (TADS) is a Federal/State developed training program designed to train individuals involved with or having responsibility for the safety of dams. Users include: engineers, technicians, dam owners, water resource managers, public officials, and the general public. TADS modules are self-contained, self-paced text supplemented by video presentations. The modules can be used in unique ways to tailor programs to meet individual or organizational needs. TADS unique design offers .

  • SELF-PACED LEARNING. Individuals progress through the materials at a rate most comfortable and effective for them.
  • COMPREHENSIVENESS. Instructional and informational materials on many aspects of dam safety are available for individuals directly responsible, or involved in, dam safety.
  • TECHNICAL INTEGRITY. Modules were developed by technical experts from participating Federal and State agencies.
  • EFFECTIVE INSTRUTIONAL DESIGN. The materials is presented in a straightforward, uncomplicated, and easy-to-manage manner. Some modules have accompanying video presentations that reinforce the text. Review exercises in the Inspection of Dams modules provide feedback on how much has been learned.
  • FLEXIBILITY. Modules are self-contained. Successful completion of most modules is not dependent upon completion of other modules. Portability enables an individual to use the TADS materials virtually any time and any place.
  • LOW COST. TADS keeps training costs to a minimum by eliminating travel, facility, and instructor costs. [Note: The TADS modules are designed to be used in a self-instructional mode, but can be used as the basis for group instruction. The TADS Facilitator's Guide provides suggestions on how to conduct group instruction on dam inspection using the TADS modules.]

21 TADS modules, arranged in 3 components


This component includes 10 modules designed for engineers with little or no inspection experience, and technicians with some familiarity with dams.

  • Preparing to Conduct a Dam Safety Inspection. Describes the different types of dam safety inspections and the possible composition of the inspection teams for each. Reviewing data and planning inspections is discussed, along with equipment needs, and inspection checklists. (workbook only)
  • Documenting and Reporting Findings from a Dam Safety Inspection. Focus is on the techniques and procedures used to document an inspection and the formats and writing of inspection reports. (workbook only)
  • Inspection of Embankment Dams. Provides guidance on how to inspect the slopes, crest, and adjacent areas of an embankment dam, and on identifying deficiencies. (workbook and videotape)
  • Inspection of Concrete and Masonry Dams. Provides guidance on how to inspect the faces, crest, interior, and adjacent areas of concrete and masonry dams, and on identifying deficiencies. (workbook and videotape)
  • Inspection of the Foundation, Abutments, and Reservoir Rim. Provides instruction on identifying deficiencies commonly affecting the foundation, abutments, and reservoir rim. (workbook only)
  • Inspection of Spillways and Outlet Works. Provides guidance on how to inspect entrance channels, intake structures, control sections, water conveyances, energy dissipation sections, and return channels, and on identifying deficiencies. (workbook and videotape)
  • Inspection and Testing of Gates, Valves, and Other Mechanical Systems. Gives specific guidance on how to inspect common types of gates and valves, electrical and hydraulic power systems, auxiliary power systems, hoists and operators, and ancillary equipment, and on identifying deficiencies. (workbook and videotape)
  • Instrumentation for Embankment and Concrete Dams. Explains the purpose of instrumentation and describes how common instruments work. Reading, recording, and interpreting data are discussed. (workbook and videotape)
  • Identification of Material Deficiencies. Describes the characteristics and causes on dam safety deficiencies that may occur in the different types of materials that comprise dams. (workbook and videotape)
  • Evaluation of Facility Emergency Preparedness. Provides instruction on how to evaluate the adequacy of site conditions and procedures, and how to inspect and evaluate the adequacy emergency preparedness equipment. (workbook only)


This component includes five modules, primarily for dam owners and operators.

  • Dam Safety Awareness. Emphasizes the importance of dam safety, and provides information on the major features of dams and how they function, the causes and consequences of dam failure, responsibilities and liabilities of dam owners, considerations for the safety of the public around dams, and the elements and implementation of an effective dam safety program. (workbook and videotape)
  • How to Organize a Dam Safety Program. Provides step by step guidance on developing a dam safety program. Presents information on the components of a dam safety program, the steps needed to establish those components, and the resources available to help establish and operate a program. (workbook only)
  • How to Organize an Operation and Maintenance Program. Explains the importance of maintenance to dam safety, and provides information on planning, implementing, and evaluating an operation and maintenance program. (workbook only)
  • How to Develop and Implement an Emergency Action Plan. Emphasizes the importance of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), defines the components of an EAP, and provides step by step guidance on developing and implementing an EAP. The module also provides guidelines for subsequently reviewing and updating an EAP. (workbook and videotape)
  • Identification of Visual Dam Safety Deficiencies. Provides owners, operators, and others who have reason to be at a dam on a regular basis with guidelines for the visual detection of some of the more common dam safety deficiencies. (workbook and videotape)


Users of the modules in this component include dam safety program managers, dam owners and operators, and experienced engineers.

The emphasis on these modules is on the when, why, and typically what investigations and analyses are conducted. The modules do not explain how to conduct specific investigations or analyses.

  • The Dam Safety Process. Provides an overview of dam safety as a continuing process, including monitoring dams, analyzing deficiencies, and taking corrective action to remedy unsafe conditions. (workbook only)
  • Evaluation of Hydrologic Adequacy. Discusses hydrology as it relates to dam safety and provides a procedure for selecting the appropriate inflow design flood. Remedial measures for hydrologically inadequate dams are discussed. (workbook only)
  • Evaluation of Hydraulic Adequacy. Provides information about which dam features are affected by hydraulic forces and presents methods of investigation and analysis of hydraulic conditions. Remedial measures for repairing damage caused by hydraulic forces are discussed. (workbook only)
  • Evaluation of Concrete Dam Stability. The module addresses: the purpose of evaluating the structural stability of existing concrete dams, the data that should be reviewed relative to stability, methods that may be used to conduct static and seismic analyses, and remedial measures for potentially unstable concrete dams. (workbook only)
  • Evaluation of Embankment Dam Stability and Deformation. Topics discussed include: the purpose of evaluating the structural stability of existing embankment dams, the data that should be reviewed and evaluated relative to settlement and stability, methods that may be used to conduct settlement and stability analyses, and remedial measures for excessive settlement and potentially unstable embankment dams. (workbook only)
  • Evaluation of Seepage Conditions. The module discusses the evolution of design practices to control seepage, the various modes of failure related to seepage, and remedial measures that may be implemented to control seepage and/or reduce its threat to the safety of a dam. (workbook only)


The entire TADS series of modules (PDF) and videos (DVD) are available in a 2 CD set that can be ordered at no cost from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Forms and Publications under Quick Links on their main website www.fema.gov to then Search By FEMA Publication Number to choose 609DVD for the TADS. Upon Checkout, you will be asked to print the Order Form, which can be mailed or sent by fax machine to the FEMA Distribution Center with your request. At the present time, there is no cost per module nor any charges for shipping.


For additional information, contact Bill Bouley by e-mail at wbouley@usbr.gov, or by phone at (303) 445-2754.

Last Updated: 02/04/2011
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