The United States Society on Dams (USSD) is dedicated to advancing the role of dam and levee systems and building the community of practice.  As the United States member of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), USSD provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences and is charged with leading the profession of dam and levee engineering.

USSD is led by a Board of Directors representing all sectors of the industry, including consultants, contractors, owners, and academia.  USSD members are encouraged to actively participate in committees which work to address current technical issues for dam and levee engineering.

President's Message

Presidents message June 2019

“Outside of our closest friends and families, there aren’t a lot of figures that we’re willing to trust.” As a nation we no longer trust our government, government officials, or corporate CEOs. However, we do trust technical experts and academics. This is an interesting perspective from a book I am currently reading, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, and one that resonates as I start my term as President of USSD.

USSD is embarking on a focused strategy to improve and facilitate opportunities for our members to grow their technical expertise and to serve as trusted advocates for our industry. Education and advocacy were previously identified as two crucial elements for USSD to fulfill our mission. To address the goals of the educate imperative in the past, we have relied 100% on the volunteer efforts of our membership to publish technical papers and develop conferences and workshops. While this has been effective, there is a need to do more to better prepare our members to serve as trusted technical experts and advocates for the “environmentally sustainable science of planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of dams, levees and associated civil engineering projects.” To improve and facilitate educational opportunities, the Board recently took two significant steps. We established an Ad-Hoc Committee on Education and appointed board member Rod Eisenbraun to serve as the chair; and we established the Strategic Imperatives Account. This account is primarily funded by our Life Membership Program and as it grows, it will be available to advance our education initiatives. This is an aspirational goal for USSD and one I personally supported when I elected to become a life member this year. If you are also committed to expanding and improving our education initiatives, please consider becoming a life member. This membership category is suitable no matter what stage of your career you are in.

Our advocacy efforts continue to develop under the leadership of Keith Ferguson as Chair of the Committee on Advocacy, Communication and Public Awareness. This integrated committee unites all related internal and external communication activities on behalf of USSD. You have already seen an active social media presence sharing relevant national and internal information about our industry. A major new effort is the development of general position statements on issues within the scope of responsibility of USSD. These position statements will allow us to respond quickly when the news cycle requires an expert opinion related to dams and levees.

USSD will continue to advocate for the role of dams and levee systems in society; and improve the technical content offered at our annual conference and exhibition which remains our primary source for educational and networking opportunities. For the 2019 Conference, the technical committees had a key role to review abstracts and identify session moderators which contributed to the overall high quality of the technical content.  The role of the technical committees will be strengthened for the 2020 Conference. If you are interested in having a role in capturing people’s attention, I encourage you to join one of our technical committees and volunteer to review conference papers and presentations, serve as a conference moderator, and collaborate on position statements.

As an elected Board member and officer, I value your support and look forward to carrying out my new responsibilities as President. I will continue to work closely with our Executive Director and the diverse and talented Board to continue to grow our organization, advance our mission, and remain a vital resource to you.