Upcoming events

    • 14 Sep 2017
    • 8:00 AM
    • 15 Sep 2017
    • 5:00 PM
    • San Antonio, TX

    Lessons Learned from Recent Tailings Dam Failures: A Path Forward

    The USSD Committee on Tailings Dams is organizing this Workshop, held in conjunction with the ASDSO national conference, Dam Safety 2017. While ASDSO attendees are encouraged to attend this Workshop, separate registration is required.

    Workshop Description

    Recent tailings storage dam and coal combustion residual impoundment failures have cast a negative light on the mining and power generation industries in the U.S. and around the world. Proper design, operation and regulation of these waste facilities is vital to maintain the public safety of the communities they are located in. Understanding the causes of these recent failures and examining lessons learned from previous historic failures is crucial to adequately respond to public safety and environmental impact concerns.

    This two-day workshop will include presentations by experts as well as breakout groups and discussion. Day 1 will provide insight on the Kingston, Mt. Polley and Samarco failures from a technical standpoint, as well as reactions and follow-up measures being implemented by dam safety officials, owners, engineers and other stakeholders.

    Day 2 will bring together a diverse group of consultants, owners, dam safety and mine safety officials, regulators and other non-government agencies to discuss changes being implemented in Canada and elsewhere, and proposed changes which should be implemented in the U.S. Breakout groups will be formed to discuss design changes and regulatory changes which should be considered in response to the failures. New guidelines, such as alternative tailings disposal technologies, minimum slopes and other prescriptive regulations, FMEA and other risk-based design approaches and critical controls and governance systems, will be discussed during interactive facilitated sessions.

    Preliminary Agenda (a detailed agenda will be available soon)

    Venue and Hotel Reservations

    The Workshop will take place at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Conference Center. The JW Marriott is also the venue for the ASDSO national conference, Dam Safety 2017. Workshop participants may reserve rooms at the JW Marriott at the ASDSO group rate of $229 plus tax per night, single or double occupancy. To reserve a room at the discounted conference rate, call the Marriott central reservations desk at 1-877-622-3140 and reference the ASDSO national conference, or visit the JW Marriott's exclusive Dam Safety 2017 reservations website. The group rate will only be available until the cutoff date of Friday, August 18. 

    The JW Marriott Hill Country is about 14 miles from the San Antonio International Airport (SAT).  The hotel does not provide shuttle service. Recommended ground transportation options include taxi cabs (approx. $45 one-way) or Supershuttle (approx. $30 one-way).


    All Workshop participants, including those who will be attending the ASDSO national conference, must register via this website.

    The registration fee includes all Workshop presentations, four refreshment breaks and handout materials.

    CEUs and Professional Development Hours

    Colorado State University, Division of Continuing Education, will grant CEUs after successful completion of the Workshop.The cost is $50.  PDH certificates will also be issued during the Conference (no charge).

    • 20 Sep 2017
    • 22 Sep 2017
    • Girdwood, Alaska (near Anchorage)

    The Challenges of Dams in Cold Climates

    Design, Construction, Permitting and Environmental Issues
    focusing on
    Alaska, Canada and High Elevation Dams

    This USSD Workshop will be held in collaboration with the National Hydropower Association, following the NHA-Alaska Regional Meeting. Participants are encourage to attend both events (Registration is separate).

    September 19: NHA Alaska Regional Meeting
    September 19: NHA/USSD Welcome Reception 5:30 pm
    September 20-21: USSD Workshop on the Challenges of Dams in Cold Climates
    September 22: Optional field trip to Lower Eklutna Dam Removal Site

    Download the Preliminary Program

    Why You Should Attend

    • Engineering, construction and environmental issues in cold climate and high altitude regions are topics that are not often presented in dam industry workshops and conferences. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to discuss these important topics with industry experts.
    • A training session on the International Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol will be presented for the first time in the U.S.
    • Case histories will be presented by top experts from around the world, reviewing some of the most high-profile projects in North America, including Site C Dam (British Columbia), Muskrat Falls Dam (Labrador), Susitna-Watana Dam (Alaska), Keeyask Dam (Manitoba) and many more small and large dams in the US, Canada, and Alaska.
    • It's cost effective! During the "shoulder season" in Alaska, airfares and car rental rates are very reasonable. And the rate at the Hotel Alyeska is a fantastic $109/night, including required fees.      

    Workshop Description

    The Workshop will bring together design and construction experts from the U.S. and Canada and is aimed at both seasoned professionals and those in the earlier stages of their careers. The two-day workshop will include presentations by experts as well as breakout groups and discussion. Following the Wednesday morning Plenary Session, breakouts will feature two tracks: 

    • Track A: Investigation, Design, Construction, Operations
    • Track B: Getting to Construction – studies and permits for environmentally sustainable dams in Alaska.

    Track B will include a one-day special training session. On Thursday, Dr. Joerg Hartmann will lead a training session on the International Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. This is the first time this topic has been presented in the U.S. Dr. Hartmann was part of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, which developed the Protocol, and he is now an accredited lead assessor and has applied the Protocol on more than 20 hydropower projects worldwide. This leading-edge training session is not to be missed.

    The Workshop is championed by Robert Cannon of Schnabel Engineering, with the assistance of Denise Bunte-Bisnett of Santee Cooper.

    Learning Objectives

    Track A:  Investigation, Design, Construction, Operations

    • Learn from Case Histories for Cold Climate Dams
    • Consider the Logistic and Costs of Investigations in Remote Territories
    • Address Diver Issues and Solutions in Freezing Water to Recognize Required Costs
    • Learn of Special Design Issues in Cold Climates
    • Recognize the Special Issues and Lessons-Learned for Cold-Climate Dams
    • Solve Unique Cold-Climate Challenges during Life-Cycle of Dam Projects
    • Learn of State-of-the-Art RCC Technologies
    • Air-Entrained RCC (AERCC)
    • Internally Vibrated RCC
    • Protection of Placed RCC in Extremely Cold Conditions
    • Mix Technology
    • Recognize Cold Weather Concrete Technology Options
    • Address Special Construction Issues for Earthen Dams
    • Estimate Construction Cost Issues on Frozen Ground and Permafrost
    • Estimate Cost Implications for Remote Locations and Short Construction Seasons
    • Resolve Construction Issues on Severely Size-Constrained Sites
    • Select Alternative Impermeable Barriers for Dams in Cold Climates (Dense Asphaltic Concrete and Geomembranes)
    • Determine Appropriate, Cost-Effective Dam Types for Cold Climate/Poor Access Sites
    • Hear FERC Perspectives on Special Issues for Cold Climate Hydroelectric Dams
    • Find Unique Solutions for Mine and Mine Tailings Dams
    • Ask Questions of the World’s Top Experts

    Track B:  Getting to Construction – studies and permits for environmentally sustainable dams in Alaska

    • Recognize Special Permitting and Environmental issues in Alaska and Canada
    • Examine Unique Issues for Cold Climate Dams
    • Compare Issues for New & Existing Dams
    • Understand the Hydropower Sustainability Protocol
    Featured Projects:

    A variety of dam types (earth, concrete, RCC, DAC lined and DAC core, geomembrane lined dams) in various cold-climate locations will be discussed, including:

    • Susitna-Watana Dam, Southcentral Alaska
    • Site C, British Columbia, Canada
    • Muskrat Falls Dam, Labrador, Canada
    • Keeyask Dam, Manitoba, Canada
    • Sweetheart Dam, SE Alaska
    • Terror Lake Hydro Project Hidden Diversion Project, Kodiak Island, Alaska
    • And many more

    Field Tour

    An optional field tour will take place on Friday, September 22, to a dam removal project just north of Anchorage. The project involves the demolition of the 61-foot high concrete Lower Eklutna Dam. The tour also includes a visit to a smaller dam on the glacial Upper Eklutna Lake in a scenic glacier-carved valley. The lower reservoir is filled with sediment, and the dam is obsolete. is intended to reestablish a salmon run in the Eklutna River. At the time of the field trip, the dam should be nearly demolished, and will be in the process of being wrapped before the winter freeze.

    For those who want to walk down to the dam site, it is a strenuous climb down and back up a 400-foot flights of aluminum stairs, as shown in the aerial photo.

    The field trip will leave the Hotel Alyeska at 8:00 a.m. and will return to the hotel by 4:00 p.m. Arrangements will be made for those with rental cars to leave their cars in Anchorage during the tour, and/or to take participants at the Anchorage airport by 3:00 p.m.

    Note:  USSD reserves the right to cancel the field trip for any reason, including inadequate attendance, weather, or site conditions that might affect the ability to tour the site. If the site tour is not possible, USSD will give as much advance notice as possible, and may be able to arrange a visit to cultural sites in the area in lieu of the site tour.

    Venue and Hotel Reservations

    The beautiful Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska, is located just 40 miles SE of Anchorage and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The hotel is nestled in the Chugach Mountains on Alaska’s south central coast.  Discounted group tram tickets will be offered during the Workshop for only $20 (regular price $29). Take the 60-person gondola ride to the bar and restaurant at the top of the mountain, or to enjoy the gorgeous views from the observation deck. 

    The special group rate for single or double accommodations is ONLY $99/night (plus tax), plus a required $10/night resort fee which provides access to the pool and fitness center and wireless internet access. The room block rate is guaranteed only through August 28, or until the room block fills. Reservations after the room block fills, or after August 28, will be at the prevailing room rate, subject to availability.

    Hotel Reservations

    Call the Hotel Aleyeska at 800-880-3880 to make your reservations. Mention that you are with the NHA/USSD meeting to ensure the special rate.

    Travel and weather

    Fly to Anchorage (ANC), the most accessible airport in Alaska, with direct flights from large U.S. cities at attractive off-season rates during September. Alaska Airlines is offering a 7% discount off Alaska Airlines published fares (except companion and other promotional fares).  Go
    online to alaskaair.com and input the Discount Code ECMX977 when searching for flights. Beginning Travel Date: September 16, 2017.
    Last Travel Date: September 24, 2017).

    The most economical option for transportation to and from the airport and the hotel is rental car. Rental cars are priced as low as $9-13 per day plus taxes (cheap off-season rates!); taxis are a more expensive alternative.

    The average high temperature in the area in September is 54 degrees; the average low is 39 degrees.


    Space is available for a limited number of 10' by 10' booths around the perimeter of the room where the plenary session, continental breakfasts, lunches and breaks will take place.  In addition, a reception in the room be held on Wednesday evening to provide even more opportunities for face-to-face contact between exhibitors and Workshop participants.

    The exhibitor fee is $1000 and includes one full Workshop registration. The fee includes one six-foot table, two chairs and access to electricity. No backdrops or booth dividers will be provided. Exhibitors may setup on Tuesday evening from 7 - 9 pm, or on Wednesday morning from 6 - 7 am. (Note: during the Wednesday evening Reception/Exhibition, the workshop tables and seating will be removed to allow more comfortable interaction with exhibitors.)

    To reserve a booth, complete the Exhibitor registration form to your left.

    Current Exhibitors

    Booth Number  Exhibitor
     4  Global Diving and Salvage
     5  Barnard Construction Co., Inc.
     7 Hydro Component Systems LLC
     8  Schnabel Engineering, Inc.


    Sponsorships provide an excellent opportunity to promote your company during the Workshop, while supporting the USSD mission.  The sponsorship fee is $400 and includes:

    • Company name and logo on all marketing materials and communications
    • Link to your website from this event web page
    • Logo on sponsor signs and powerpoint slides during Workshop
    • Recognition during event functions
    • Pre- and post-event attendee lists with contact information
    • Table space to display company brochures and handouts during Workshop (if not an exhibitor)

    To reserve your sponsorship, complete the appropriate registration category to the left (member, non-member, speaker/presenter, young professional), and select the sponsorship option at the end of the registration form.


    Note: Click here to register for the NHA Regional Meeting (USSD Members may register at the NHA Member rate).

    Registration categories and fees:

    USSD or NHA Member -- $500
    Non-Member -- $550
    Workshop Speaker/presenter -- $400
    Young Professional (age 35 and under) -- $350

    The registration fee includes:
    • NHA/USSD Welcome Reception Tuesday evening

    • Access to Workshop powerpoint presentations after the Workshop
    • Continental breakfasts, lunches and breaks on Wednesday and Thursday
    • Exhibitor Reception Wednesday evening
    • Optional field tour to Lower Eklutna Dam Removal Project on Friday, including transportation and box lunch
    • Opportunity to purchase discounted Alyeska Resort tram ticket for $20 at the USSD registration desk
    Cancellation Policy: You may transfer your registration at any time at no cost. Cancellations received in writing by September 1 will be refunded less a $50 administrative fee.  Cancellations after this date cannot be refunded.

    CEUs and Professional Development Hours

    Colorado State University, Division of Continuing Education, will grant CEUs after successful completion of the Workshop.The cost is $50, payable to CSU.  PDH certificates will also be issued during the Conference (no charge). More information will be available at the Workshop.

    More Information

    For more information about the Workshop, contact Sue Anderson, sanderson55@comcast.net, 970-231-2274.
    • 30 Apr 2018
    • 7:00 AM
    • 04 May 2018
    • 5:00 PM
    • Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Avenue, Miami FL

    For the first time, USSD will hold its annual meeting in the state of Florida. The Theme of the 38th Annual Conference, A Balancing Act: Dams, Levees and Ecosystems, reflects the importance of environmentally sustainable water projects within diverse and sometimes fragile ecosystems.

    The Host for the 2018 Conference and Exhibition is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District.

    Call for Papers

    Abstracts are now being invited in response to the Call for Papers.  To submit an abstract, you must first set up an account with Catalyst, the tool we'll be using to manage abstracts and paper submissions, and reviews.  Catalyst Instructions.

    Abstract submission

    The deadline to submit an abstract is August 21.


    The 2018 USSD Conference Theme is A Balancing Act: Dams, Levees and Ecosystems.  Dams and levees have, and continue to provide significant benefits to society.  These benefits include flood control, water supply, irrigation, renewable energy, navigation, recreation, and habitat and environmental enhancement.  Many of our existing dams and levees are poised to provide additional benefits and solutions to some of our nation’s future infrastructure, environmental, social, and economic challenges. 

    For the first time, the USSD annual conference will be held in Florida. The  theme represents some of the unique challenges that coastal environments and delicate ecosystems face,  which requires balancing the purposes of dams and levees with environmental, social and economic interests.

    Herbert Hoover Dike

    USSD continues to recognize, discuss and communicate the beneficial and adverse impacts of these  important facilities. USSD and its members continually work to identify and advance solutions that minimize impacts and maximize the benefits of dams and levees in their environment, working toward structural, economic and environmental sustainability.  Papers and presentations addressing the Conference theme and other technical topics remind ourselves, and the greater community, of the value of, and need for, dams and levees to society while increasing awareness of how these structures contribute to environmental sustainability.

    Who Should Participate

    USSD and ICOLD Members as well as all professionals involved in dams, levees, and water resource engineering are invited to submit abstracts. Abstract submissions must be for proposed papers and/or presentations that are original and have not been published or accepted in a journal or conference proceedings, nor presented at another conference. Submissions must not be concurrently under consideration for publication or presentation elsewhere.

    Authors are invited to submit abstracts describing research or experience relating to the Conference Theme, or corresponding to topics addressed by USSD Technical Committees, as shown below.

    While not required, all presenters are strongly encouraged to prepare a paper, which will be included in the electronic Conference Proceedings. The Planning Committee will favor acceptance of abstracts from authors who indicate that they will prepare a paper.  Abstracts will be selected by members of the Conference Planning Committee based on scientific/engineering merit, relevance, and overall quality. Due to time and space constraints, it is possible that not all submissions will be selected for the Conference.  Abstracts will be accepted for presentation as follows:

    • 15 to 20-minute oral presentation
    • 5 to 10-minute oral lightning round presentation

    Following acceptance, authors will submit a draft paper for peer review. Following this review, authors will prepare final papers.

    All authors and presenters are expected to attend the Conference and pay the discounted registration fee for authors and presenters. Those who do not return the commitment form and register by the deadlines will not be included in the final program.

    Young Professionals (under age 35) are encouraged to submit abstracts, and will receive a reduced conference registration fee.  Planning Committee members and session moderators are prepared to offer advice and support throughout the process, from submitting your abstract, to preparing the draft paper, to finalizing your presentation.

    Conference Theme Topics

    • Upstream siltation and its impact on the ecosystem
    • Dams and levees role with respect to rising sea water levels, water quality, and as sediment traps
    • Impact of dams and levees on wetlands
    • Lessons learned from tailings dam and coal combustion impoundment failures
    • Managing  fish migration — are there proven ways that work and are there effective non-structural measures?
    • Dam and levee safety inspections and construction with respect to wildlife
    • Dam and reservoir water management practices for improved environmental and wildlife conditions
    • Shoreline management and recreation at water projects – balancing the social aspects and benefits with costs and safety.
    • Using levee stormwater treatment areas (STAs) for improved water quality to ecosystems
    • Hurricane effects on dam and levee systems in south Florida
    • Lessons learned in levee flood fighting
    • Water project infrastructure practices that contribute to increasing economic, social, and environmental sustainability

    Other Technical Topics

    • Concrete Dams
    • Construction and Rehabilitation
    • Dam Safety
    • Dam Decommissioning
    • Earthquakes
    • Embankment Dams
    • Environment and Sustainability
    • Foundations
    • Hydraulics of Dams
    • Levees
    • Monitoring of Dams and their Foundations
    • Public Awareness
    • Public Safety and Security for Dams
    • Tailings Dams

    Conference Schedule

     Abstracts Due  August 21, 2017
     Notify Authors
     September 15, 2017
     Drafts Due
     November 1, 2017
     Review Comments
     January 15, 2018
     Final Papers Due
     March 1, 2018
     Conference  April 30-May 4, 2018

       Herbert Hoover Dike

    Conference Information

    Activities will begin on Monday, April 30, with USSD Committee Meetings. The Conference Opening Plenary Session at 5 pm will be followed by the Kick-off Reception and Exhibition Opening.  Tuesday morning will feature a Plenary Session, with concurrent technical sessions taking place on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday. 

    Thursday and Friday will provide additional opportunities for learning, with field tours and workshops. Meals and social events throughout the week will offer plenty of networking opportunities.

    Exhibition and Sponsorships

    An Exhibition will be held for organizations wishing to showcase their products and services to a wide range of professionals involved in dams, levees and water resources. 

    Event and product sponsorships throughout the Conference will offer additional marketing opportunities. 

    Exhibitor reservations and the sponsorship program will be available this fall.

    Field Tours

    A half-day tour on Thursday afternoon will visit the Tamiami Trail, part of the Florida Everglades restoration project.

    The day-long Friday tour will feature the Herbert Hoover Dike, a 143-mile-long earthen dam that surrounds Lake Okeechobee, the heart of the Everglades system.  Various construction projects designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure of the aging structure are ongoing.

                                                   Tamiami Trail Bridge


    Several concurrent workshops, organized by USSD Technical Committees, will be held on Thursday and/or Friday. USSD Technical Committees are invited to submit workshop proposals to the planning committee by August 14.

    Hotel Reservations

    All Conference activities will take place in the downtown Miami Hyatt Regency and the connected Miami Convention Center. Overlooking the Miami River, the Hyatt Regency Miami is a landmark hotel with easy access to popular attractions, like Brickell City Center, Wynwood Art District, Coral Gables, Port of Miami, and the Latin flavor of Little Havana.  Here is the link to make room reservations. The special conference rate is $209.00. A limited number of rooms are available at the government per diem rate of $156.00

    Conference Registration

    Conference registration will open this fall.

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