Conference call - review of the USSD's annual meeting

13 July 2010

The US Society on Dams reports on its successful annual conference, held in the US from 12-16 April 2010

A record number of dam industry professionals attended the US Society on Dams’ (USSD’s) 30th annual meeting and conference, held recently in Sacramento, California. Kenneth A Steele, conference general chairman said that it was one of USSD’s most successful conferences ever.

The Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) was the annual meeting host, and USBR dams were featured during the field tours. Over 450 delegates attended the meeting, where more than 120 papers were presented during the two-day technical conference. Papers addressed the conference theme of collaborative management of integrated watersheds, as well as other contemporary issues facing those involved in the design, construction, operation and safety of levees, embankment dams, concrete dams and hydro facilities.

“The conference’s success demonstrates a renewed interest in dams and water resources management in the world today and the impetus being given to collaborative processes,” Steele said. “We saw evidence of both in our papers and presentations; in the joint Reclamation-Corps project at Folsom dam; in solutions being sought for California’s water resources needs; in the signing of a technical cooperation agreement between USSD and the Chinese Committee on Large Dams; and even with a workshop that was jointly developed by our environmental and tailings dams committees.”

The opening plenary session featured updates from Jinsheng Jia, president of the International Commission on Large Dams, and David Gutierrez, president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. These informative presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the CALFED storage programme, a collaborative state and federal effort to enhance surface water storage in California.

Additional presentations during the plenary session included discussions of issues that are particularly relevant to many dam professionals:

• Officials from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers gave an update the joint federal project to design and construct a new auxiliary spillway as part of a seismic upgrade programme at Folsom dam in California.

• A report on the California Department of Water Resources comprehensive evaluation of 3380km of levees highlighted the increasingly critical issue of levee performance and safety in the US.

• The role of dams as a critical infrastructure was emphasised in a paper presented by officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

Down to business

The USSD board of directors elected Michael F Rogers from MWH as vice president; and Walter L Davis from Seattle City Light will serve as secretary-treasurer. Daniel J Hertel continues as president of the society, whose 1100 members are involved in all facets of the dam industry, including design, construction, operations, safety and security, and environmental issues relating to dams.

President Hertel presented several awards and scholarships during the closing banquet on 14 April.

Daniel Hertel
Daniel Hertel (left) presents a certificate of thanks to Ken Steele, chairman of the 2010 conference planning committee.

Arthur H Walz, Jr from Gannet Fleming was given the lifetime achievement award, recognising his 45 years of contributions to the dam engineering profession. He has provided technical leadership on geotechnical issues affecting worldwide dam and water resource projects throughout his professional engineering career.

Arthur H. Welz, Jr
Daniel Hertel (left) presents 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award to Arthur H. Welz, Jr.

Walz retired as chief of the geotechnical and materials branch at the US Army Corps of Engineers headquarters. During his long career with the Corps, he made significant contributions as a principal designer or team leader on the construction of 16 new dams; 14 major dam safety decision documents and modifications to high hazard dams; and four seismic evaluations that led to two major modifications. USSD president from 1999 to 2001, Walz later served as the North American vice president of ICOLD from 2005 to 2008. He has attended and actively participated in more than 21 USSD and 16 ICOLD meetings.

The Taum Sauk upper reservoir dam restoration project was named the recipient of the award of excellence in the constructed project. On 14 December 2005, a 213m section of the rockfill dike surrounding the Taum Sauk upper reservoir near Annapolis, Missouri, failed, releasing 5.3Bl of water. The new upper reservoir, completed in late 2009, involved a complete rebuild of the dam, making it the largest RCC dam in North America. The project is owned and operated by AmerenUE, Missouri’s largest electrical utility company.

Three scholarships were also announced during the meeting. Tiffany E Adams, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, received a US$10,000 scholarship to support her research on the stability of levees with deep mixed shear walls. Jack Montgomery, from the University of California, and Ryan Van Leuven, from Utah State University, received US$1,000 scholarships.

Tiffany Adams
Tiffany Adams, winner of 2010 USSD Scholarship, makes her poster session presentation.

Related Articles
Spotlight ... North America

Conference papers

Papers presented during the concurrent technical sessions and the poster session can be downloaded from the USSD website at
The 2011 USSD annual meeting and conference will be held in San Diego, California from 11-15 April. A call for papers is online at USSD"™s website.

Daniel Hertel Daniel Hertel
Tiffany Adams Tiffany Adams
Arthur H. Welz, Jr Arthur H. Welz, Jr

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.