After a dam is built it is inspected regularly by people that know the structure and the signs of distress. Possible problems found during an inspection are investigated and corrected.
Protect Staff Inspections
The men and women who operate and maintain a reservoir dam are those most familiar with their dam and inspect it most often. In addition to observing the dam as they perform their routine duties, they conduct weekly and monthly inspections of all important features. They are trained in Dam Safety and get expert help whenever they have a question or concern.
Engineers and scientists from the Louisville District office inspect each reservoir dam at least once a year. They inspect critical features and review the condition and performance of the dam with project staff. The engineer or scientist may recommend further investigations or remedial work based on this inspection.
Every reservoir dam gets a comprehensive inspection once every five years by an experienced team of engineers and scientists from the District Office. Engineers from the Ohio River Division Office normally participate as well. The inspection team members are knowledgeable in the design, construction and maintenance of the dam. The team inspects all parts of the structure; all gates, valves and operating equipment are inspected and tested. The inspection findings and recommendations are documented in a formal report and submitted to Corps offices in Cincinnati, Ohio and Washington, D.C. for review and approval. If the inspection team recommends remedial actions, the work is scheduled and completed as soon as possible.
Reservoir dams in the Louisville District are equipped with instruments to monitor conditions in critical areas. Just as abnormal temperature or blood pressure indicate human illness, there are measurements to indicate abnormal conditions in a dam. Dams have instruments to measure water pressure, seepage and movements. These instruments are read at regular intervals and the data are evaluated by engineers and scientists for signs of distress in the dam; the data are also compared with assumptions made during design of the structure. The data and evaluations are documented in the periodic inspection report as a permanent record of the dam’s performance.
Louisville District personnel inspect and monitor each dam and are trained to respond to emergencies. Frequent dam safety training keeps them aware of problems that could occur. Members of the Louisville District Dam Safety team are active in professional organizations which promote dam safety and share information about dams with colleagues in other agencies and Corps offices worldwide.