Dams and hydropower facilities in the United States bring local communities immense benefits—flood control, reliable power, water storage, jobs, and recreational benefits among them. But to ensure that their benefits are known, they must be successfully communicated to the public and to federal and local policymakers. 

That is the mission of the U.S. Society on Dams (USSD), whose executive director, Sharon Powers, is featured in this month’s cover interview. Ms. Powers tells us about how the USSD helps empower U.S. dam and levee professionals to advance the sustainable benefits of dams and levees for society through education, collaboration with national and international organizations, and career development activities. 

We also bring you two important interviews with Bureau of Reclamation staff on hydropower-related issues. First, we speak with Karen Knight, Reclamation’s director for dam safety and infrastructure; Bob Pike, the chief of Reclamation’s dam safety program; and Brian Becker, a senior advisor at Reclamation and the agency’s design, estimating, and construction oversight and dam safety officer, about Reclamation’s dam safety activities. Second, we speak with Max Spiker, Reclamation’s senior advisor for hydropower, about how the agency keeps its facilities and operations up to date to ensure that hydropower remains a long-term cost-competitive energy source. 

Then, we speak with Inna Kremza about the Voith HydroSchool, which offers Voith clients and the public a wide variety of courses on the design, modernization, and rehabilitation of turbines and generators and the operation and maintenance of hydropower plants. 

Finally, we feature an article by Chuck Sensiba and Melissa Horne of law firm Troutman Pepper on new proposed changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s dam safety regulations in the wake of the 2017 Oroville spillway failure and the failures of two Michigan dams in May 2020. 

Hydropower and dams are crucial parts of our nation’s economy. To make sure that this continues to be so, U.S. dam owners must ensure that their facilities are safe and that those facilities’ benefits are clearly communicated to the publics they serve. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.