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Project ID:2006RI45B

Title: Assessment of Downstream Hazard Potential for Dam Failure in Rhode Island

Project Type: Research

Start Date: 03/01/2006

End Date: 02/28/2007

Congressional District: RI

Focus Categories: Models, Methods, Management and Planning

Keywords: risk assessment, uncertainty, probabilistic, dam safety, GIS

Principal Investigators: Gindy, Mayrai (University of Rhode Island); Thomas, Natacha

Federal Funds: $18,713

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $37,461

Abstract: Recent events in Taunton, Massachusetts, have reemphasized the importance of dam safety and the need for identifying risk and the design of a management plan. The 173-year old Whittenton Pond Dam buckled under heavy rain and forced the evacuation of 2,000 residents. Potential collapse would have caused major flooding and overloading to downstream dams creating a dangerous chain reaction. Currently there are 618 inventoried dams in Rhode Island, all of which are descriptively and loosely classified by size (small, medium, or large) and hazard (high, significant, low) rating. However, the hazard classifications were assigned nearly 25 years ago and may no longer provide an accurate assessment of the downstream hazard potential since many nearby communities have continued to grow. Moreover, the current hazard rating scheme is solely qualitative. It does not account for uncertainty in natural and structural parameters and is subjective in nature. Risk assessment of dams, on the other hand, provides quantitative measures for critical parameters such as the probability of dam failure, consequence of failure and estimates of risk reduction for various structural and non-structural rehabilitation alternatives. The main objective of this proposed research is to investigate several viable techniques for risk assessment of Rhode Island dams that account for the probabilistic behavior of natural and structural parameters. A comparative example will be performed on a selected Rhode Island dam and hazard potential will be compared with the 2004 DEM rating. Recommendations will be made for possible alternative techniques to improve the hazard assessment of RI dams.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 03, 2008
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