Lessons Learned

All dams need an operable means of drawing down the reservoir.

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Concrete gravity dams should be evaluated to accommodate full uplift.

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Dam incidents and failures can fundamentally be attributed to human factors.

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Dam owners, engineers and regulators need to address public safety at dams.

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Dams located in seismic areas should be evaluated for liquefaction, cracking, potential fault offsets, deformations, and settlement due to seismic loading.

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Earth and rockfill embankment dams must be stable under the full range of anticipated loading conditions.

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Emergency Action Plans can save lives and must be updated, understood, and practiced regularly to be effective.

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Hazardous hydraulic conditions, such as hydraulic rollers, can occur at dams of all sizes.

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High and significant hazard dams should be designed to pass an appropriate design flood. Dams constructed prior to the availability of extreme rainfall data should be assessed to make sure they have adequate spillway capacity.

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Intervention can stop or minimize consequences of a dam failure. Warning signs should not be ignored.

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Many earth-cut spillways have been constructed in erodible material that can result in unsatisfactory performance and breaching of the spillway. The integrity of all earth-cut auxiliary spillways should be evaluated to ensure that the design storm can be safely passed.

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Regular operation, maintenance, and inspection of dams is important to the early detection and prevention of dam failure.

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Seepage along penetrations through embankment dams should be controlled using a filter diaphragm instead of anti-seep collars.

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Stability of the dam foundation and other geologic features must be considered during dam design.

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The first filling of a reservoir should be planned, controlled, and monitored.

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Uncontrolled vegetation on and around dams can hinder inspection and lead to serious structural damage, significant maintenance costs, and possible failure.

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