Dam Safety in the United States and Canada

In this month’s Hydro Leader, Malcolm Woolf, the president and CEO of the National Hydropower Association, the national trade association for the hydropower association, tells us about new developments in the water power world. Hydropower plays an important role in supporting the grid and enabling the use of other carbon-neutral energy technologies; in light of its importance, relicensing should be made easier and its tax treatment should be made equal to that of other renewable energy technologies. 

Dusty Myers, chief dam safety engineer at Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, gives us a look at the development of the dam safety program at the rapidly growing energy company. Mr. Myers is bringing Eagle Creek up to speed with new dam safety and public safety policies, all while keeping an eye on the evolving requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

Annick Bigras, the director of dams and infrastructure expertise at Hydro-Québec, tells us about how her agency learned from the 1‑in-10,000‑year Saguenay Flood of 1996. In addition to responding to its own specific circumstances, Hydro-Québec is actively involved in knowledge sharing through national and international organizations like the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) and the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation. 

Jarrod Malenchak, head of the water resources engineering section at Manitoba Hydro, is also concerned with dam safety. In addition to his day job providing safe, reliable energy to Manitobans, he is the chair of the CDA’s dam safety committee. 

Canadian dams benefit from a largely standardized set of signage guidelines. Paul Meeks of Worthington Products would like the United States to follow that example. He explains the fundamentals of good dam signage design and informs us about Worthington’s offerings. 

Finally, we speak with Lori Brady of Washington State’s Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District, which is installing a fish guidance boom system. 

As our interviews this month demonstrate, dam safety can be promoted through a wide variety of channels. In-house dam safety sections, national associations, cross-company standards, and government regulations all play an important role. Together, the hydropower industry is making strides to guarantee that it continues to provide its critical power in the safest manner possible. 

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.