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 November 2019

“Advocating publicly for the positive role of dams in society is not easy especially since negative headlines tend to get much more attention. Recent headlines such as, “Dams increase the risk of malaria,” “Dams harm coastal areas far downstream,” and “Tear down deadbeat dams” are catchy but present a limited and sometimes erroneous perspective. While dams have and will continue to serve many valuable purposes, Quenching the Thirst – Sustainable Water Supply and Climate Change, written by USSD member George Annandale, presents a clear message to help dam industry professionals understand and advocate for one of the many positive roles of dams to “satisfy the water supply needs of current generations of man, without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.”

ICOLD Advocates — As a member of USSD you are automatically a member of a world-wide advocacy group, the International Commission on Large Dams. ICOLD is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the sharing of professional information and knowledge of the design, construction, maintenance, and impact of large dams. ICOLD benefits include free access to online resources and Bulletins, and discounted conference registration where you can collaborate with international thought leaders in our profession. Contact USSD to obtain your ICOLD access code.

Strengthening USSD’s connection to ICOLD took a big step last year when Mike Rogers, USSD past president, was elected ICOLD President, and again this year when the USSD Board formalized the role of ICOLD Liaison. ICOLD Liaison is a position filled by the immediate USSD Past President for a two-year term and is currently held by Dean Durkee. Some of the duties of the ICOLD Liaison are to coordinate and strengthen USSD representation on ICOLD technical committees, and to collect and disseminate significant information from ICOLD technical committees.

INCA Advocates — As a member of USSD, you are also a member of the ICOLD National Committee of the Americas (INCA), our regional advocacy club. In early November, INCA held the 2nd International Symposium on Dam Safety in the Americas, in Hernandarias, Paraguay. The USSD delegation for INCA was led by John Wolfhope, USSD past president, and featured presentations by USSD member Enrique Matheu, PhD, Acting Associate Director, Stakeholder Engagement Division, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security; and James Demby, P.E., Senior Technical and Policy Advisor, National Dam Safety Program, Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a member of INCA, USSD was asked to share its experience and best practices in dam safety, incident management, and emergency preparedness with special focus on emergency action planning. The perspectives of the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — as the designated Sector-Specific Agency for the Dams Sector in the U.S.; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — as the lead agency for the National Dam Safety Program in the U.S. — provided a valuable contribution to this important international engineering and technological event.

Levee Coalition Advocates — USSD is represented on the United States Levee Safety Coalition by Elena Sossenkina, USSD Board member, Levee Committee Chairperson, Technical Program Chair for the 2020 conference, and ICOLD Levee Committee Vice-Chair. In her leadership role on the U.S. Levee Safety Coalition, Elena has been instrumental in advocating for the National Levee Safety Program with the support of USSD Executive Director Sharon Powers, and the USSD Board of Directors. The coalition recently announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY20 Energy & Water Development appropriations bill which included $15 million for the National Levee Safety Program’s levee inventory, triple the amount of funding this program has ever received.

Kim de Rubertis, Advocate — When I think of advocates, I think fondly of Kim de Rubertis. Our professional community was saddened when we learned Kim recently passed away in Wenatchee, Washington. In 2016 Kim was added to the list of the “rock stars” of our industry when he was awarded USSD’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for his dedication, achievement and significant contributions to the dam engineering profession. In addition to his outstanding professional achievements, Kim was also a strong and tireless advocate for women in engineering and for educating future generations of dam engineers. Kim was a friend and mentor to many; he always had a smile on his face, and ready with a warm greeting. You will be missed, my friend, but your legacy will live on.

I encourage all USSD members to also be a strong and persistent advocate for our industry. There are many ways to get involved and make a difference beginning with membership on one of our many technical committees. I will continue to work closely with our Executive Director and the diverse and talented Board to continue to grow our organization and advance our mission so USSD remains a vital resource to you.”