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

President’s Message June 2020 

Since the beginning of June, COVID-19 virus circulation has surged in many locations throughout the nation. USSD’s Executive Director is closely monitoring this evolving situation, receiving input on travel restrictions implemented by our organizational and sustaining members, and considerations provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) relevant to hosting events and gatherings. The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Our goal is to protect our members, AND continue to carry out our Missionto empower professionals to advance sustainable benefits of dams and levees for society. Therefore, we have opted to take the lowest risk alternative and will hold virtual-only events and gatherings through the remainder of 2020. This includes the summer technical planning committee meeting, USSD Board meetings, and the Fall Workshop Series.

While many of us are learning to navigate the ups and downs of virtual platforms and working remotely, Sharon Powers and her team have worked remotely since the fall of 2017 and have mastered it. Now they are focused on ensuring USSD is an agile organization; able to respond quickly to these changes in the marketplace and the environment. Their efforts are bearing fruit as USSD implements new technology solutions to deliver virtual training and improve our operations while carefully managing costs. Some of the recent changes include:

  • Cvent – a more robust platform for event planning and management was recently implemented to manage the 2021 annual conference and exhibit. If you have submitted an abstract for 2021, I hope you found the platform easier to use than in previous years.
  • Zoom – a platform for video and audio conferencing and webinars underwent extensive upgrades to enhance its security and safety. This platform was successfully used for the Strategic Plan presentation meetings, the Professional Ethics training webinar conducted by Ronnie Lemons (Freese and Nichols), and is routinely used for Board meetings. Access to Zoom events now requires a password, and the moderator to let participants out of a virtual waiting room before they can enter the event.

Planning is well underway for our 2021 annual conference and exhibition which is still scheduled as a large in-person gathering to be held in Charleston, SC from April 12 through 16, 2021. Conrad Ginther (Black and Veatch), technical program chairperson, and his core team have been working diligently to organize the technical content. They will hold a virtual planning meeting in August using the Zoom platform and are communicating details as they are finalized with the technical committees and the rest of the planning team.

We are also expanding our training program beginning with a new web-based Leadership Series focusing on communication skills development for engineers.  The series is led by Laura Camacho, MBA, PhD, PMP. Dr. Camacho is an admitted introvert with a PhD in communications. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert you will find great value in the content and the format of Dr. Camacho’s virtual training series.

As always, Sharon and her team keep our members informed of news, events, and changes as they occur by updating details on our website and through routine electronic communications. I hope you all remain well and will choose to participate in some of the virtual events planned for the rest of 2020.