2015 Annual Meeting and Conference

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.


The Host for the Annual Meeting and Conference will be the Corps of Engineers .


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
Crux Subsurface, Inc.
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
Kleinfelder, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Stantec Consulting Services Inc.
Tetra Tech, Inc.
WEST Consultants, Inc.
  Lunch on Tuesday
  Coffee Breaks on Wednesday
  Wednesday Continental Breakfast
  Coffee Breaks on Monday
  Underwater Construction Workshop
  Proceedings -- electronic version, full papers
  Tuesday Continental Breakfast
  Wednesday Dinner
  Coffee Breaks on Tuesday
  Wednesday Night Reception
  Lunch on Wednesday

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. A schedule of meeting will be linked from here soon.

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 special rate for USSD Conference participants is $169 single or double, plus taxes. To make reservations, call 888-421-1442 and request the special USSD rate. Online reservations. A limited number of rooms are available at the prevailing Federal Government Per Diem. Government Per Diem reservations.

The room block rate is guaranteed only through March 23, or until the room block fills. Reservations after March 23 will be at the prevailing room rate, subject to availability.

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 at 12 noon for those attending a workshop or the field tour.

Risk Assessment Tools Applied to Coal Tailings Dams and Ash Impoundments

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 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.

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

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on nvironment 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.

Dams on Karstic Foundations

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Foundations

Moderator — Troy O’Neal, Corps of Engineers

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 found in the U.S. Attendees will be given an overview of poor performance of dams founded on karstic rock, investigative techniques and alternatives measures for these foundation conditions. Additionally, several case histories will be presented and will be followed by a panel discussion.

Current Uses of Roller-Compacted Concrete in Dams

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Organized by the USSD Committee on Concrete Dams

Moderator — Michael F. Rogers, MWH

The USSD Committee on Concrete Dams is currently engaged in a collaborative 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. This Workshop will present a general discussion of Bulletin 126 as well as the proposed updates. The Committee is soliciting USSD members and others with interest and experience in RCC to attend this Workshop and discuss the proposed updates. It is hoped 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.

Underwater Investigation and Construction

1:00 p.m - 5:00 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 use presentations and case studies to discuss:

  1. Setting the stage: why underwater work may be needed, as well as potential challenges, including financial and environmental obstacles.
  2. Defining what you have: recent advances in technology that make it possible to “take a picture” of a structure and its components.
  3. The broad range of work that can be performed underwater.

Field Tours

Thursday Field Tour, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

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

Located in the historic Portland neighborhood of Louisville, McAlpine Locks and Dam is a short drive from the Hotel. The original lock and dam was completed in McAlpine Locks and Dam 1830 as part of a 1.9-milelong 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 on the tour. The current configuration includes twin 1,200-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 visiting the McAlpine Locks and Dam, tour will go to Taylorsville Lake Dam, located approximately 45 minutes from downtown Louisville. The dam is one of twenty flood protection projects under the jurisdiction of the Louisville District. Constructed between 1974 and 1983.

Taylorsville Lake Dam is an earth and rockfill embankment with a crest length of 1,280 feet and a height of 162 feet. Taylorsville Lake has a surface area of more than 3,050 acres and provides outdoor recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife enhancement and quality water storage in addition to its primary function as a flood control reservoir.

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.

Cannelton Locks and Dam

The Cannelton Locks and Dam is 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. 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.

The Cannelton Hydroelectric Project is the first of AMP’s four run-of-river hydroelectric projects currently under construction. A guided tour of the powerhouse, which is nearing completion, will be provided by AMP and the design engineer MWH. The powerhouse is equipped with three horizontal bulb turbines with a capacity of 28 MW each and is capable of generating a total of 84 MW at a gross head of 25 feet.

Lunch will be provided by the tour hosts, the Corps of Engineers, AMP and MWH.

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
 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.Field Tour
Friday, April 177:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.Field Tour and Lunch

USSD 5k Walk/Run

This is your chance to get in on the ground floor. If you will be attending the USSD Conference in April, don't miss the inaugural USSD 5K Walk/Run. Thursday morning, April 16th, start your morning with your favorite USSD running buddies to get some circulation going before sitting in workshops or attending a field tour. The cost is $25 and all proceeds will go to the USSD Scholarship Fund. Running will begin at 6:45am. If that is too early for you, but you think scholarships are a worthy cause, 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 could make a donation to the scholarship fund. 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

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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