Denver, Colorado

United States Society on Dams
2016 Annual Meeting and Conference

April 11 - 15, 2016

2016 Conference Registration is Closed. Thanks for your support!

Technical Program (PDF)

Index of 2016 Conference Information

Conference Overview
Colorado Convention Center, Scott Dressler-Martin and VISIT DENVER

The 2016 USSD Conference Theme is Celebrating the Value of Dams and Levees — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Dams and levees have provided and will continue to provide significant benefits to our society. Many of our existing dams and levees provide greater benefits today than they did when they were first constructed and they will be needed to provide even greater benefits to address the challenges of the future.

Dams and levees are not without their undesirable impacts, and a number of individuals and organizations have worked very effectively to address these impacts during the last several decades. This focus has resulted in minimizing, eliminating or mitigating many of the impacts. Unfortunately, this focus has also resulted in casting an unrealistically negative image on dams and levees. Further, a vocal minority seem more interested in advancing idealistic agendas than in finding real solutions and have, in many instances, used questionable methods to advance their cause.

USSD has been and continues to be a source for balance and reason — neither ignoring the negative impacts nor their benefits. USSD and its members have worked and continue to work to identify and advance real solutions that minimize impacts and maximize the benefits of dams and levees.

The Opening Plenary Session on Tuesday morning will include presentations addressing the Conference theme and other contemporary issues. Six Concurrent Technical Sessions on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, and a Poster Session Tuesday evening, will feature more than 150 presentations. On Thursday, three half-day workshops and two full-day workshops will take place. An afternoon field trip will take participants to Denver Water’s Gross Dam.

Larry K. Nuss and Kenneth D. Hansen will give an enlightening lunch presentation on Tuesday. If you are an independent consultant, or have ever thought about becoming one, you won’t want to miss their talk!

Comedian and author Rex Havens will be the Wednesday dinner speaker. For 20 years, he has entertained and educated audiences with his insightful observations about successful interpersonal relationships in the workplace. USSD Awards will be presented during the evening, including the Outstanding Paper Awards, the awards for Excellence in the Constructed Project and Lifetime Achievement. The winners of the 2016 USSD Scholarships will also be announced.


The Bureau of Reclamation will serve as Host of the 36th Annual Meeting and Conference.


The Conference technical program was organized jointly by several USSD Committees under the leadership of Rodney Eisenbraun, RJH Consultants, Inc.

Denver Skyline at Sunset, Ron Ruscio, Visit Denver

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.

Conference Exhibitors include the following organizations. All exhibit spaces have been sold. Contact USSD to be added to a wait list if any exhibitors withdraw from participation.

Conference Sponsors include the following organizations:

Colorado Water Conservation Board
DG-Slope Indicator
Gannett Fleming, Inc.
GEI Consultants, Inc.
GENTERRA Consultants, Inc.
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
Hydro Component Systems, LLC
Kleinfelder, Inc.
Measurand Inc.
Pacific Netting Products
RJH Consultants, Inc.
Schnabel Engineering, Inc.
WEST Consultants, Inc.
WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff
Worthington Products, Inc.
Worthington Products, Inc.
 Lunch on Wednesday
 Coffee Breaks Wednesday
 Friday Field Tour
 Continental Breakfast Wednesday
 Tuesday Reception
 Conference Proceedings printed abstracts
 Advocacy Workshop
 Monticello Dam Workshop
 Lunch on Tuesday
 Continental Breakfast Tuesday
 Coffee Breaks Monday
 Kick-Off Reception Monday
 Young Professional Social Event
 Tailings Workshop
 Legacy Lecture Workshop
 Coffee Breaks Tuesday
 Wednesday Night Reception
 On-Site Program
 Wednesday Dinner
 Public Safety and Security Workshop
 Thursday Field Tour

16th Street Mall, Denver, Colorado

All events, except the Wednesday closing banquet, will be held in the Colorado Convention Center. The banquet will take place in the adjacent Conference Hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center. Downtown Denver is one of the most walkable downtowns in the nation, and is the heart of the city’s dining and entertainment district.

Young Professionals

Participants age 35 and under are encouraged to attend at a discounted Registration Fee of $500. All YPs are invited to attend the meeting of the USSD Committee on Young Professionals on Monday to provide insight regarding future initiatives and conferences. In addition, a special YP/Student track is being offered on Tuesday afternoon, with a series of presentations by YPs that will include technical discussions as well as other professional development content. On Tuesday evening, an off-site networking social will be held for YPs; more details will be provided as the Conference approaches. An award for Outstanding Paper by a YP will be presented during the Wednesday banquet.

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. The Committees will meet in the Colorado Convention Center.

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

The Conference Hotel is the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center, 650 15th Street, Denver, Colorado, 80202, 303-436-1234. However, the USSD room block at the Hyatt Regency is full. There are a number of hotel options in downtown Denver.

Conference and Workshop Registration
Theodore Roosevelt Dam

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

  • Conference Proceedings
  • Technical sessions
  • Monday Committee Meetings
  • Monday evening kick-off reception
  • Continental breakfasts Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Coffee Breaks
  • 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 $1,095 for USSD Members and $1,195 for non-members, with a $100 early discount. A Young Professional Fee of $500 is available to participants age 35 and younger. To receive the Early Registration Rate, you must register by March 11. The Late Registration Fee applies to registrations received after 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 1. All refunds are subject to a $25 processing fee. After April 1, the registration fee is not refundable, but substitutions are acceptable.

Conference Registration is closed.


Five Workshops (two all day sessions and three half-day sessions) will be held Thursday, April 14. Workshop attendance is included in the Conference Registration Fee. For those not attending the Conference, the Workshop fee is $350 for the full day sessions and $250 for a half-day session or $350 for two half-day sessions.

A buffet lunch will be served at 12:00 noon for those attending a workshop or the field tour.

Public Safety and Security for Dams

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

Organized by the USSD Committee on Public Safety and Security for Dams

Moderators — Jack G. Byers, The Byers Group LLC; and William F. Foos, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

This technical workshop compliments the outreach for Public Safety and Security around Dams and the DHS Dam Security and Protection Technical Seminar Series. Through management tools and shared best practices, the workshop will introduce attendees to public safety and emergency management programs for dams, related hydropower, and water supply reservoirs. Attendees will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the public safety hazards around dams, modifications for improved public safety, Emergency Action Plans and incident management (e.g. incident command system), After-Action Reporting related to dam incidents. Attendees will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the interrelationship among public safety, security, and incident management (e.g., incident command system) related to dam operations.

This workshop is ideal for those who are balancing responsibilities inherent with an Owners Dam Safety Program (ODSP) including dam safety, public safety, security, risk and EAP management.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding of current challenges with public safety
  • Exposure to best practices in the field of public safety
  • Learn how to develop and manage an effective Emergency Action Plan and incident command system for small and medium size dams.

Creating a Landform: When a Waste Impoundment is No Longer a Dam Safety Hazard

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

Organized by the USSD Committee on USSD Committee on Tailings Dams

Moderators — Amanda Adams, MWH; and José J. L. Clemente, Bechtel Corporation

Post-closure management of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and mine tailings storage facilities poses significant technical and financial challenges. Mine operators and the power industry (coal-fired power plants) can be held responsible for the post-closure performance of these facilities for indeterminate lengths of time, resulting in heavy financial burden to the industry and the associated need for regulatory oversight. Thus, it is of interest to these industries and regulators to adopt approaches that benefit all considering long-term risk, maintenance and management. One such approach is to develop closure strategies that consider the diminishing downstream hazard potential of the closed impoundment, as it transitions to a landform that ultimately requires no regulation from a dam safety perspective, i.e., de-licensing the facility. The 1-day workshop will address various technical issues related to CCR and mine tailings flowability characteristics, closure instrumentation programs, CCR and mine tailings consolidation, dewatering, shear strength increase. Also addressed will be the design and licensing to become a landform, such as the Alberta oil-sand de-licensing experience and regulatory programs.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand concepts related to closure and de-licensing CCR and mine tailings disposal facilities and creating landforms that require no regulation relative to dam safety.
  • Obtain regulator’s perspective on this topic.
  • Engage practitioners, owners and regulators interested on this emerging topic.

Monticello Dam Blind Prediction Analysis

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

Organized by the USSD Committee on Earthquakes

Moderators — Phoebe Percell, Bureau of Reclamation; and Lelio H. Mejia, AECOM

On May 22, 2015, Monticello Dam experienced a M 4.1 earthquake with the epicenter approximately 16 km away from the dam. There was instrumentation on the foundation and the dam crest, which recorded the event. This workshop will examine the predictions of dam response to the earthquake by multiple organizations, with various numerical prediction codes, using the same input motion. Each interested analyst will be given a packet of information which will contain drawings of the dam, material testing results, and the free field rock time history. The analysts will be responsible for building a model that they judge to be sufficient to predict the response of the dam from the provided information. All analysts will submit their predicted response one month prior to the conference, by March 1, 2016, for compilation. Each analysis type will be presented and the actual response will be unveiled at the workshop. The group will then discuss the results and identify areas where further improvement in analysis methods could be made. Participants who have not submitted an analysis are welcome to attend the Workshop.

Monticello Spill

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand various methodologies for seismic analysis of concrete dams.
  • Make industry contacts in the field.
  • Test and validate analysis skills against those of the industry.

Advocacy: Discussing the benefits of dams with your friends and neighbors, the media, and the guy sitting next to you on the plane

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

Organized by the USSD Committee on Public Awareness

Moderator — Amanda Sutter, Corps of Engineers

There is a growing “anti-dam” sentiment in the media and society at large. As a community, dam safety professionals are very experienced at discussing risk and means of reducing risk. The workshop wil serve as a tool to train people on how to start the conversation and deliver the correct message on the many benefits of dams. The workshop will share strategies for spreading good news stories about the dam industry and providing balanced information, supporting Advocate and Educate imperatives of the USSD strategic plan, as well as the Conference theme.

Format: Facilitated roundtable interactive discussions with workshop participants. Participants will be distributed among tables, intermingling federal agencies, private owners, contractors, consultants, etc. Each facilitor will be responsible for one discussion topic, visiting all tables, rotating every half hour, so every table discusses each topic. Each facilitator will give a short wrap-up to conclude the Workshop.

Learning Objective:

  • Develop strategies and ideas for providing balanced, accurate information and for spreading good news stories about the dam industry

USSD Legacy Lecture Series: Dr. Richard Goodman

1:00 p.m - 5:00 p.m.

Organized by the USSD Committee on Foundations

Moderator — J. David Rogers, Missouri University of Science and Technology

This Workshop is the first in a series intended to provide a forum to recognize and highlight professionals who have pioneered substantial advances in the field of dam safety engineering. Dr. Richard Goodman will be the first esteemed professional to discuss projects, people, thoughts, and paradigm shifts that led to his success. The Workshop provides an opportunity for the entry level individual and the seasoned professional to listen and learn from this renowned expert. In addition to the technical presentation, a former student of Dr. Goodman, Dr. J. David Rogers, will lead a one-on-one interview of Dr. Goodman. This will be followed by a time of questions to Dr. Goodman from the audience.

For more than 50 years, Dr. Richard Goodman has been a leader in evaluating dam foundations throughout the world. Through his research and consulting, Professor Goodman made seminal contributions in the areas of engineering geology and rock mechanics. In his pioneering work in identification of failure modes and kinematics of jointed (blocky) rock masses, he developed the base friction apparatus and, later, working with Dr. Gen Hua Shi, block theory. He is a prolific author with an impressive list of fundamental and advanced texts and technical papers for journal and conference publications. He is an internationally known consultant, having worked on numerous major rock engineering projects around the world.

Learning Objectives:

  • Examples of the aspects of critical thinking in the understanding and development of solving unique and challenging problems.
  • Transfer of knowledge by an esteemed professional through the use of project examples, case histories, and other examples.
  • Foster technical competency.

Field Tours
Gross Dam, Boulder County, Colorado

Thursday Field Tour, 1:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Following lunch in the Colorado Convention Center and a brief presentation, the Thursday tour will provide a visit to the Denver Water’s Gross Dam. The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project, currently under design, will nearly triple the capacity of Gross Reservoir, located in Boulder County.

Friday Field Tour, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Following a presentation by the Colorado Division of Dam Safety, the Friday field tour will feature dams near Estes Park, Colorado, that were impacted by unprecedented flooding in the fall of 2013. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch and free time in beautiful Estes Park.

Guest Program

Conference Guests will enjoy their stay in vibrant and beautiful downtown Denver. Information on walking tours and nearby activities will be provided when you arrive. Guests will also enjoy the following Conference activities, included in the $325 Guest Registration Fee:

Guests will also enjoy the following Conference activities:

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

Optional Guest Tour — Colorado Springs

Because of limited registrations, the Guest Tour has been cancelled.

The Guest Registration Fee is $325.

Guest Program Agenda

Monday, April 116:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.Kick-Off Reception
Tuesday, April 127:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.Continental Breakfast
 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.Reception
Wednesday, April 13 6:45 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.5K Walk/Run
 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.Continental Breakfast
 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.Reception and Dinner
Thursday, April 1412:00 noon - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Field Tour
Friday, April 158:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.Field Tour and Lunch

2016 Annual Conference 5K FUNds Run for Scholarships

5K FUNds Run for Scholarship Fund

The second 5K Walk/Run to support the USSD Scholarship Fund will be held on Wednesday, April 13. More than 40 people participated in the inaugural FUNds Run in Louisville last April. Thanks to our sponsors and racers, we raised close to $3,000 for scholarships!

Start your morning with your favorite USSD running buddies to get some circulation going before sitting in technical sessions. 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. Either way, you can make a donation to the scholarship fund.

Contribute a minimum of $250 to the USSD Scholarship Fund and your logo/name will be displayed as a 5K Sponsor on the Conference website and publicity poster. Contributions to the fund can be made any time prior to the Conference.

Register for the 5k Walk/Run
on the Conference Registration Form.

--Click for larger image

Conference Planning Committee
  • Rodney Eisenbraun, RJH Consultants, Inc., Chair, Planning Committee
  • Phoebe Percell, Bureau of Reclamation, Vice-Chair, Planning Committee
  • Denver Performing Arts Complex Steve Crecelius and VISIT DENVER
  • Elena Sossenkina, HDR, Vice-Chair, Planning Committee
  • Jennifer Williams, AECOM, Vice-Chair, Planning Committee
  • Tiffany E. Adams, AECOM
  • David Bentler, CH2M Hill, Inc.
  • Carmen Bernedo Sanchez, MWH Americas, Inc.
  • Meredith Beswick, Kleinfelder, Inc.
  • Paul E. Booth, ARCADIS
  • Stephen Brown, Kleinfelder, Inc.
  • Thomas A. Brown, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA
  • Catrin Bryan, McMillen, LLC
  • Jack G. Byers, The Byers Group LLC
  • Robert P. Cannon, Schnabel Engineering, Inc.
  • Robin G. Charlwood, Robin Charlwood & Associates
  • Timothy P. Dolen, Dolen and Associates
  • Shaun Dustin, Campbell Scientific
  • Keith A. Ferguson, HDR
  • S. Michael Feroz, MRJF Consulting Inc.
  • John W. France, AECOM
  • B. Alex Grenoble, HDR
  • Vik Iso-Ahola, MWH
  • George A. Kelley, Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Eric Kennedy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Andrew Little, HDR
  • Darren Mack, SAGE Engineers, Inc.
  • Ray E. Martin, Ray E. Martin, LLC
  • Stephen L. McCaskie, Hanson Professional Services, Inc.
  • Debora J. Miller, Miller Geotechnical Consultants, Inc.
  • Richard A. Millet, AECOM
  • Dave Moore, Tetra Tech, Inc.
  • Timothy J. Randle, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Bryant Andrew Robbins, Corps of Engineers
  • Michael F. Rogers, MWH
  • Tara C. Schenk McFarland, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Emily Schwartz, HDR
  • Mike Shiflett, Freese and Nichols, Inc.
  • Jay N. Stateler, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Manoshree Sundaram, MWH
  • Amanda Sutter, Corps of Engineers
  • Martin J. Teal, WEST Consultants, Inc.
  • Jason H. Thom, DOWL
  • Roger L. Torres, Consultant
  • Heather H. Trantham, Consultant
  • Sheila Tripp, Kleinfelder, Inc.
  • Travis C. Tutka, Corps of Engineers
  • Victor Manuel Vasquez, Freese and Nichols, Inc.
  • Daniel L. Wade, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Tony Wahl, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Stephen L. Whiteside, CDM Smith
  • Gregory A. Zamensky, Black & Veatch Corporation

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