Reclamation Provides Dam Safety and Emergency Management Training to Brazil

Written by: Travis Buttelman

Emergency management training participants engaged in a simulated emergency response tabletop exercise in Brasília, Brazil.
Emergency management training participants engaged in a simulated emergency response tabletop exercise in Brasília, Brazil.
Brazil's National Water Agency, Agência Nacional de Águas or ANA, has been an important partner of the U.S. Department of the Interior since the U.S. Geological Survey signed a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding with them in 2015. The Bureau of Reclamation has partnered with both USGS and ANA since 2016 by providing training and technical assistance on an array of water resources management topics, including dam safety, emergency management, and operation and maintenance of water conveyance systems. In the summer of 2019, Reclamation employees traveled to Brasília, Brazil to conduct two high priority trainings with ANA. Both of these trips and trainings were sponsored by the Brazilian Government.

In July, employees from Reclamation’s Technical Service Center—Lucas Adams, Dave Gillette, and Jaron Hasenbalg—provided classroom training in Brazil on dam safety principles and conducted field inspections for ANA personnel. During this trip, Reclamation and USGS worked together to conduct training on areas such as, the principles of embankment and concrete dams, potential failure modes, monitoring dam performance, mechanical equipment, dam inspection and programmatic aspects of dam safety. In the field, Reclamation staff led practice inspections of two dams near Brasília—Descoberto Dam, a concrete gravity dam and Paranoá Dam, a zoned embankment dam.

In August, Reclamation employees Ben Claggett, Paul Tranetzke, and Adam Milligan traveled to Brazil to provide a five-day training on emergency management concepts, processes and procedures. These Reclamation employees trained approximately 80 Brazilian personnel with dam safety responsibilities who represent ANA, as well as other Brazilian federal, state, provincial, and private sector dam safety personnel. The training concluded with personnel conducting a simulated emergency response tabletop exercise with attendees participating in the role they normally do for their job. Prior to the training, Brazilian personnel had very limited experience in emergency management. This training proved to be vital in helping the Brazilian government understand emergency planning concepts and take steps to improve their preparedness and dam safety programs.

ANA and its stakeholders face significant water resource management challenges and both of these trainings increased the technical expertise of employees. This program benefits the Department of the Interior by furthering important technical and scientific collaboration with the government of Brazil. In addition, the program provides Reclamation employees an opportunity to hone their training skills, learn about unique water management challenges, and expand their professional network. When asked about his experience conducting training in Brazil, Technical Service Center Mechanical Engineer Lucas Adams said, "The interest of participants and their resolve to apply what was learned was inspiring. Not only did it confirm the benefit of facilitating the training, it established friendships with like-minded professionals committed to common goals."

Reclamation provides technical support abroad to enhance its international reputation and cement its standing as a source of expertise in dam engineering and dam safety programs. ANA was pleased with the training and has expressed interest in coordinating a return of Reclamation staff to Brazil to continue training both on dam safety and emergency management.

To learn more about Reclamation's International Affairs Program, please visit

A group photo of training participants.

Published on January 16, 2020