Safety of Dams Program

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The Bureau of Reclamation Dam Safety Office oversees 57 dams in the Pacific Northwest. The 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 saves lives and protects property. It is our goal to ensure the physical integrity of what we build or maintain remains intact.

Comprehensive Reviews are performed every eight years, and include participation from the area office, regional office, and the Technical Service Center. CRs include not only a detailed, onsite examination, but they also look at changes in the best design practices, the loading conditions on the dam, downstream population, and the risk evaluation. Periodic Facility Review are performed every eight years by the area and regional offices, midway between CRs and involves a detailed, onsite examination of the structures. Annual site inspections are conducted by the responsible Area Office in those years in which there is no CRs or PFRs.

Emergency Action Plans 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 of an emergency situation. Functional exercises practice a timed, emergency response to a simulated incident.

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Christopher Regilski
Dam Safety Office Program Manager

Bureau of Reclamation
Columbia–Pacific Northwest Region
1150 N Curtis Road
Boise, Idaho 83706-1234

Last Update: 2/20/24