Louisville, Kentucky

United States Society on Dams
2015 Annual Meeting and Conference

April 13 - 17, 2015

Online Registration Form

Technical Program (PDF)

Conference Information and Registration Form (PDF)

Index of 2015 Conference Information

Conference Details

Venue, Guests and Activitiess


Conference Overview
Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby, Louisville, KY, Courtesy Convention & Visitors Bureau

The 2015 USSD Conference theme is Managing Risk and Uncertainty — Ensuring a Sustainable Future for Dams, Levees and Reservoirs. With growth in population and development, many older dams and levees that were constructed to protect agricultural interests are now protecting people and personal property, and are being called upon to provide other benefits such as power generation, recreation and water supply. As a result, the risk associated with many of these structures has increased, bringing new costly challenges for owners to retrofit or modify existing dams and levees in response to the expanded role these structures now play.

Operation of dams and levees involves numerous uncertainties about potential extreme loading conditions, the consequences of failure, the condition of the structures themselves, the effectiveness of established operation and maintenance procedures, and human behavior. Safe operation of these facilities must take into consideration all of these uncertainties and simply meeting established engineering criteria does not necessarily mean that a structure will continue to perform safely. In addition, design and construction of new dams and levees or modifications to existing structures involves uncertainties, particularly with respect to the geological materials upon which the structures are constructed. Design and planning for new construction must take into account these uncertainties and how to equitably share the risk of unforeseen conditions.

Recent failures of coal ash storage reservoirs have highlighted the risks associated with waste impoundments, many of which are classified as low hazard relative to the potential for life loss. Safety of these structures has not always been at the forefront of awareness within the industries they serve, with the unfortunate result being that some do not receive the same level of regular inspection and maintenance as dams constructed for water supply, flood control and power generation. Although many of these impoundments do not pose a significant risk to human life, the economic and environmental consequences of failure can be extremely high.

The theme for this 35th Annual Conference highlights that, while dams and levees are critical components of the nation's infrastructure, there are always risks and uncertainties associated with ownership and operation of these facilities. Recognizing and effectively managing these risks and uncertainties is critical to ensuring that these structures will continue to provide the societal benefits that we depend on without posing an unacceptable hazard to life, property or the environment.

The Opening Plenary Session on Tuesday morning will include several presentations addressing contemporary topics of interest to dam professionals.

Five Concurrent Technical Sessions on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, and a Poster Session Tuesday evening, will feature the presentation of more than 100 technical papers.

On Thursday, three full-day workshops and two half-day workshops will take place. An afternoon field trip will take participants to nearby projects of the Corps of Engineers.

Elena Sossenkina, HDR, will discuss Lessons in Risk Policy Implementation in a Tuesday lunch presentation. USSD 2014 Scholarship recipient Beena Ajmera, Virginia Tech, will provide an update of her research during the Wednesday lunch.

Charles Yoe, Notre Dame of Maryland University Professor and expert on risk analysis, will be the Wednesday dinner speaker. USSD Awards will be presented, including the Outstanding Paper Awards, the President’s Award, and awards for Excellence in the Constructed Project and Lifetime Achievement. The winners of the 2015 USSD Scholarships will also be announced.


A Planning Committee, chaired by Alex Grenoble with assistance from various technical committees, will organize the Technical Program.

 Louisville Slugger Country, Courtesy Convention & Visitors Bureau
Exhibition and Sponsorships

An exhibition featuring water resources related goods and services will be held during the Conference. The exhibition will open with a reception on Monday evening; continental breakfasts, lunches and breaks on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a reception Tuesday evening will be held in the exhibit area to ensure maximum interaction with Conference participants.

Sponsorships for Conference activities and products are also available. Exhibitor and sponsor information.

Conference Exhibitors include the following organizations. Additional Exhibitors will be listed here, as they commit to participation.

Conference Sponsors includes the following organizations. Additional Sponsors will be listed here, as they commit to participation.

Barnard Construction Company, Inc.
CDM Smith
ConeTec, Inc.
Crux Subsurface, Inc.
Gannett Fleming, Inc.
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
Kleinfelder, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Stantec Consulting Services Inc.
Tetra Tech, Inc.
WEST Consultants, Inc.
Worthington Products, Inc.
 Karst Workshop
 Lunch on Tuesday
 Coffee Breaks on Wednesday
 Wednesday Continental Breakfast
 Tailings Dams Workshop
 Coffee Breaks on Monday
 Tuesday Reception
 Underwater Construction Workshop
 Proceedings -- electronic version, full papers
 Tuesday Continental Breakfast
 Young Professional Social Event
 Friday Field Tour
 Wednesday Dinner
 Coffee Breaks on Tuesday
 Wednesday Night Reception
 Lunch on Wednesday
 Monday Kickoff Reception

Fourth Street Live, Louisville, KY

The Monday committee meetings, the Wednesday closing banquet, and the Thursday workshops will take place in the Hyatt Regency Louisville. All other Conference events will be held in the adjacent Kentucky International Convention Center. The Hyatt Regency and the Convention Center are just steps away from Fourth Street Live!, a complex of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Young Professionals

A discounted registration rate is offered to Young Professional (age 35 and under). A Tuesday evening event following the Poster Session and Reception will provide an opportunity for additonal networking. And, an Outstanding Paper Award will go to a Young Professional author.

Continuing Education Units

Colorado State University, Division of Continuing Education, will grant CEUs after successful completion of the Conference and/or a Workshop. CEU information will be available at the Conference.

USSD Committee Meetings

Committee Meetings, to be held on Monday, are an important part of the Annual Meeting. All Conference participants are welcome to attend the committee meetings. Committee Meeting Schedule.

Construction and Rehabilitation
Dam Decommissioning
Dam Safety and Dam Security
Embankment Dams
Environment and Sustainability
Hydraulics of Dams
ICOLD Congress Papers
Monitoring of Dams and Their Foundations
Public Awareness
Tailings Dams
Young Professionals

Annual Meeting of Members

All Conference participants are invited to attend the USSD Annual Meeting of Members on Monday afternoon. Following a brief review of current USSD activities, Members will have an opportunity to present their ideas and suggestions about USSD to the Board of Directors.

Kick-Off Reception/Exhibition Opening

Each year, USSD Conference participants and guests look forward to the annual Monday evening reception to network, make new professional contacts and socialize. A highlight of this year's reception will be the opening of the Exhibition, featuring organizations offering products and services to the dam profession.

Hotel Reservations
Hyatt Regency in Louisville, KY

The Conference Hotel is the Hyatt Regency Louisville, 311 South 4th Street, Louisville, KY, 40202, 502 581 1234.

The USSD room block at the Hyatt Regency is full.

Rooms are available at the new Hilton Garden Inn, 350 West Chestnut Street, about three blocks from the Hyatt Regency. The rate is $149 plus taxes. Call the Hilton Garden Inn at 502-584-5175 and ask to make a reservation using the group code of USSD15. Online Hotel Reservation.

Conference and Workshop Registration

The Conference Registration Fee for the Annual Meeting and Conference includes:

  • Conference Proceedings
  • Technical sessions
  • Monday evening kick-off reception
  • Continental breakfasts Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Lunches Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Tuesday evening reception
  • Wednesday reception and dinner
  • Thursday Field Tour and/or Workshop, with lunch
  • Friday Field Tour, with lunch

The fee is $995 for USSD Members and $1,095 for non-members, with a $100 early discount. A Young Professional Fee of $450 is available to participants age 35 and younger. To receive the Early Registration Rate, you must register by April 3. The Late Registration Fee applies to registrations received after April 3 and on-site registrations. The Registration Fee can be paid by check; VISA, MasterCard or Discover; or purchase order.

Cancellation Policy: To receive a refund, USSD must receive notice of cancellation by the end of business on April 6. All refunds are subject to a $25 processing fee. After April 6, the registration fee is not refundable, but substitutions are acceptable.

Online Registration Form


Five Workshops (three all day sessions and two half-day sessions) will be held Thursday, April 16. Workshop attendance is included in the Conference Registration Fee. For those not attending the Conference, the Workshop fee is $320 for the full day sessions and $200 for the half-day sessions.

A buffet lunch will be served for those attending a workshop or the field tour.

Risk Assessment Tools Applied to Coal Tailings Dams and Ash Impoundments

8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Tailings Dams

Moderators — José J. L. Clemente, Bechtel Corporation; and Robert E. Snow, D'Appolonia Engineering

Mine operators and power plant owners have used a variety of methods to assess and rank the risk associated with operating impoundments for tailings and combustion ash. Company management frequently employ tools ranging from audits to risk screenings, performed within their regulatory compliance, environmental, dam safety, or risk management departments to assess potential exposure to release from impoundments as well as environmental impact. Are the risks adequately understood, and the pathways for potential release of tailings or combustion ash sufficiently recognized to support risk assessment? Are procedures for screening and analyzing risk capable of providing guidance in risk management programs? As impoundments are closed either because of service life exhaustion or regulatory decree, can risk assessment continue to be of service?

This Workshop will raise these issues with input from regulatory agency representatives commenting on the types of impoundment risk being encountered across the mining and power industry, owners who assess risk of their impoundments, researchers who characterize the behavior of the materials encountered, and practicing engineers working to maintain or close these structures.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the types of risks associated with tailings dams and impoundments
  • Identify assessment tools used by the mining and power generation industry to help in risk management
  • Learn the material behavior and properties that influence potential failure modes and consequences of release from impoundments
  • Learn risk assessment procedures for tailings dams and impoundments
  • Understand risk mitigation measures including solidification, stabilization and closure

Paths to Success — Environmental Permitting and Public Acceptance for Dam Projects

8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Environment and Sustainability

Moderators — Blaine Dwyer, HDR; and Denise Bunte-Bisnette, Santee Cooper

Throughout the U.S., public agencies and utilities are endeavoring to develop additional water storage as well as better use existing water storage to improve water supply reliability, enhance supply diversification and meet future demands. These processes are bringing forth important new strategies for addressing complex federal, state and local regulatory requirements, environmental needs, and diverse stakeholder and public interests. Owners are facing daunting challenges meeting the requirements of the laws and policies administered by resource and regulatory agencies that often result in lengthy and costly planning and permitting processes. Using examples from across the country, the speakers and panelists will compare and contrast key elements for successful project development including strategic engagement of stakeholders and the general public including impact avoidance and minimization, up-front mitigation implementation, adaptive management approaches, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to demonstrate how careful planning supports successful permitting.

This Workshop will explore these topics with context provided by a keynote speaker and a presentation on Governance of dams. Additional input is provided by regulatory agency representatives sharing their perspectives and answering questions on key issues; a moderated panel session to collect perspectives from owners across the nation; and, case studies of two major current programs.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the benefits and principles of early public involvement in the planning process for water storage projects
  • Learn requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act related to the planning and initiating of water storage projects
  • Learn the roles, authorities and preferred procedures of federal regulatory agencies related to the permitting of water storage projects subject to compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act
  • Learn strategies successfully used by water supply agencies in their planning and permitting of water storage projects

Dams on Karstic Foundations

8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Foundations

Moderator — Troy O’Neal, Corps of Engineers

The Foundations Committee is offering a Workshop on dams with karstic foundations. The one day event will include presentations, a panel discussion, and networking opportunities. Numerous dams in the U.S. have been constructed on sites underlain by bedrock prone to varying degrees of solutioning. The solutioning process is normally more pronounced in areas with increased water flow such as along joints and bedding planes. Initially, insoluble material in the form of residual soil remains. Over time the soft soil is eroded, and a network of open and soil-filled voids are left in the rock. The term "karst" is typically used to characterize rock that is known to have solution features.

This Workshop will explain how karst is formed, (both in carbonate and evaporite rocks) and where it is typically found in the U.S. A diverse group of workshop speakers consisting of national dam safety experts (such as Donald Bruce and Jeffrey Schaefer) will present an array of topics on karst. Attendees will be given an overview of poor performance of dams founded on karstic rock, investigative techniques, and alternative measures for these foundation conditions. Additionally, several case histories (including Wolf Creek Dam recent remediation) will be presented, along with a panel discussion with the workshop speakers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how karst is formed and where it is found in the United States
  • Gain an understanding of investigative measures for dams on karst
  • Learn about typical poor performance indicators for dams on karst
  • Understand a variety of alternatives used to remediate dams on karst
  • Learn about several case histories of dams on karst and their remedial efforts

Current Uses of Roller-Compacted Concrete in Dams

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Concrete Dams

Moderator — Michael F. Rogers, MWH

The USSD Committee on Concrete Dams is currently engaged in a collaboration effort with ICOLD to publish an update to ICOLD Bulletin 126 — Roller Compacted Concrete for Dams. USSD will be leading the technical updates to three chapters in the RCC Bulletin: Construction; Performance; and Appurtenant Uses. The USSD Committee on Concrete Dams is hosting a Workshop on the Current Uses of Roller-Compacted Concrete in Dams to present the proposed updates to Bulletin 126, including a general discussion of the proposed Bulletin 126 updates and changes. Representatives of the USSD and ICOLD Committees on Concrete Dams will make presentations on the proposed updates to Bulletin 126, including a general discussion of the proposed Bulletin 126 updates and changes. Input is requested from USSD members during this Workshop through discussion on the three chapter updates in the ICOLD Bulletin #126. It is anticipated that the Workshop leaders and participants will identify key aspects of these RCC design features that could be included in the updated bulletin. The current version of Bulletin 126 can be downloaded from the ICOLD website.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the general plans to update ICOLD Bulletin 126
  • Learn about USSD contributions to the parallel ICOLD Committee on Concrete Dams
  • Have an opportunity to contribute to the ICOLD Bulletin 126 update through discussion with the primary authors and provide input on the selected topics

Underwater Investigation and Construction

1:30 p.m - 5:30 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Construction and Rehabilitation

Moderator — Frank Immel, Global Diving & Salvage, Inc.

The purpose of this Workshop is to inform and educate the participants about what can and cannot be done underwater. The idea for this Workshop developed from a conversation about the kinds of work the commercial diving / marine construction community is doing. Members of the engineering community are often surprised to learn that most work that can be performed on the surface can also be performed underwater. It may cost a bit more and take a bit longer, but it can be done. A relatively recent development is the ability to 'see' underwater using remote sensing technology to collect and present detailed information about an existing structure. This Workshop will present some of the basic principles of diving; how depth effects bottom time and how much work a diver can do, crew sizing, cost/schedule impacts. Presentations will be given to assist in planning and designing the repair, modification, or upgrade in water.

Learning Objectives:

  • Compare and contrast dewatering your facility vs. working in-water.
  • Learn what to keep in mind when designing a repair, modification, or upgrade to a structure that is underwater.
  • A lot has changed in the past 5 years in hydrographic survey; understand the technologies that are now available and see examples of the latest deliverables.
  • Understand the limitations and capabilities of diving, how they affect schedule and pricing
  • Learn what can and cannot be done underwater. The can do list is longer than you might think.

Field Tours

Thursday Field Tour, 1:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Following lunch in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Thursday tour will provide a visit to the Corps of Engineers’ McAlpine Lock and Dam.

Located in the historic Portland neighborhood of Louisville, McAlpine Locks and Dam is only a short drive from the Conference hotel. The original lock and dam was completed in McAlpine Locks and Dam 1830 as part of a 1.9-mile-long canal system that was constructed to allow navigation past a falls on the Ohio River. The lock was constructed in 3 flights with a total lift of 26 feet. A hydroelectric powerhouse was added in the late 1920s when the locks were expanded. In 1960, the lock and dam was named for the only civilian to hold the position of Louisville District Engineer, W. H. McAlpine, and was in need of a major renovation. A second expansion project, completed in 2009, resulted in the project we will see on the tour. The current configuration includes twin 1200-foot-long locks that provide the capacity to accommodate current barge traffic along this section of the river with additional capacity to accommodate projected traffic increases. The 1990 expansion also included replacement of the existing swing and bascule bridges with a two-lane, high fixed span concrete bridge to provide access to Shippingport Island and the Louisville Gas and Electric hydroelectric generating station.

After touring the McAlpine Locks and Dam, we will return to the downtown area and have an opportunity to visit one or more local attractions including the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, the Louisville Glassworks, the Frazier History Museum and the Muhammed Ali Center.

Friday Field Tour, 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

The Friday field tour will go to the Corps of Engineers’ Cannelton Locks and Dam and the adjacent American Municipal Power (AMP) Cannelton Hydroelectric Powerhouse.

The tour will begin at the Cannelton Hydroelectric Project — one of AMP’s four run-of-river hydroelectric projects currently under construction on the Ohio River. The Cannelton Hydroelectric Project is located on the Ohio River near Hawesville, Kentucky.

Cannelton Locks and Dam

A guided tour of the powerhouse, which is nearing completion, will be provided by AMP and the design engineer MWH. The powerhouse is a three-unit, single monolith, reinforced concrete, combination dam/hydroelectric powerhouse founded on alluvial river deposits and designed to be submerged in floods. The powerhouse is equipped with three horizontal bulb turbines each with a capacity of 28 MW and is capable of generating a total of 84 MW at a gross head of 25 feet. The powerhouse is provided with an exterior-type 175-ton capacity permanent bridge crane that operates on concrete runway frames above the roof in a direction parallel to flow and is an unique application for hydroelectric projects on the Ohio River, first implemented at the Belleville Hydroelectric Project.

Lunch will be provided by AMP and MWH.

The tour will then continue to the Cannelton Locks and Dam located on the Ohio River, approximately three miles upstream of Cannelton, Indiana. The current project was constructed as a replacement for three smaller facilities known as Locks and Dam 43, 44 and 45. Construction of the current locks began in July 1963 and was completed in April 1967. The dam was constructed between 1965 and 1974. The Main Lock is 110 feet wide by 1,200 feet long and the Auxiliary Lock is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. Both navigation locks are located on the Indiana bank. The dam is a concrete gravity weir with a crest length of 1,412 feet and is equipped with 12 tainter gates, each of which is 42 feet high by 100 feet wide. At the southern end of the gated section of the dam, a concrete capped cellular overflow weir extends to the south (Kentucky) bank of the Ohio River.

Guest Program

Guests will have an opportunity to meet and mingle during a coffee reception on Tuesday morning. A representative from the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau will introduce guests to the city and its many attractions. This event will be an opportunity for guests to join others in activities or tours to be arranged on your own. Information on possible tours will be available at the Meet and Mingle event.

Guests will also enjoy the following Conference activities:

  • Monday evening Kick-Off Reception
  • Continental breakfasts on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Tuesday morning Meet and Mingle Reception
  • Reception on Tuesday evening
  • Reception and awards banquet on Wednesday
  • Field Tours and lunches on Thursday and Friday

The Guest Registration Fee is $325.

Guest Program Agenda

Monday, April 136:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.Kick-Off Reception
Tuesday, April 147:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.Continental Breakfast
 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.Meet & Mingle
 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.Reception
Wednesday, April 157:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.Continental Breakfast
 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.Reception and Dinner
Thursday, April 1612:00 noon - 12:45 p.m. Lunch
 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Field Tour
Friday, April 177:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.Field Tour and Lunch

2015 Annual Conference Louisville 5K FUNds Run for Scholarships
5K FUNds Run for Scholarship Fund

Don't forget to pack your running shoes or your favorite pair of boots or high heels. Thursday April 16th, start your morning with your trusted USSD running buddies to get some circulation going before sitting in workshops or attending a field tour. The individual registration cost is $25 and all proceeds go to the USSD Scholarship Fund. The start is at 6:45am. If that is too early, you can sign up to be a virtual runner. You would be able to stay in bed and still be with us in spirit. Either way you can make a donation to the scholarship fund. Register for USSD 5K FUNds Run Lead the way and encourage others. Let's see which company and which USSD technical committee has the most participants!

Can't make it to Louisville? You can participate in this inaugural event, even if you are not attending the conference! Sign up to be a virtual runner and go for a walk in your favorite park at your convenience. Then, in 2025, when we are having the 10th Anniversary 5k, you will be able to say, "I was there when this all started!"

Online Registration Form

Want your name on the poster? Become a sponsor. Contribute a minimum of $200 to the USSD Scholarship Fund and your logo/name will be displayed as an event sponsor on the event poster. Contribute to USSD Scholarship Fund Here There is no limit to the number of sponsors we will accept. In fact, we would welcome the chance to fill the lower portion of our poster with as many company logos and individual names as possible.

< Click image to enlarge

Whiskey Barrels, Louisville, KY,  Courtesy Convention & Visitors Bureau
Conference Planning Committee
  • B. Alex Grenoble, HDR, Chair, Planning Committee
  • Robert W. Anderson, Corps of Engineers
  • George W. Annandale, Golder Associates Inc.
  • Jeffrey M. Bair, Black & Veatch Corporation
  • John A. Bischoff, AECOM
  • Paul E. Booth, ARCADIS
  • Denise Bunte-Bisnett, Santee Cooper
  • Robert P. Cannon, Schnabel Engineering, Inc.
  • William Christman, Chelan County Public Utility District
  • José L. M. Clemente, Bechtel Corporation
  • Dean B. Durkee, Gannett Fleming, Inc.
  • Rodney Eisenbraun, Kleinfelder, Inc.
  • Aled Hughes, MWH
  • James D. Hussin, Hayward Baker Inc.
  • Vik Iso-Ahola, MWH Americas, Inc.
  • George A. Kelley, Tennessee Valley Authority
  • C. Michael Knarr, Consulting Engineer
  • Jesse Kropelnicki, Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Laura Ann LaRiviere, Consultant
  • Guy S. Lund, AECOM
  • Phoebe Percell, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Jessica Raithel, RIZZO Associates
  • Michael F. Rogers, MWH
  • Lawrence H. Roth, Consultant
  • Guilaine Roussel, Terra Engineers, Inc.
  • Robert E. Snow, D'Appolonia Engineering
  • Elena Sossenkina, HDR
  • Manoshree Sundaram, MWH
  • Amanda Sutter, Corps of Engineers
  • Martin J. Teal, WEST Consultants, Inc.
  • Heather Trantham, Stantec
  • Travis C. Tutka, Corps of Engineers
  • Daniel L. Wade, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Tony L. Wahl, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Stephen L. Whiteside, CDM Smith
  • Carmen N. Williams, Corps of Engineers
  • Olga Zabawa, Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Gregory A. Zamensky, Black & Veatch Corporation
  • Bakenaz A. Zeidan, Tanta University

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