Dam Owner Workshops

Dam Owner Workshops

The ASDSO Dam Owner Education Program: One-Day Workshops



Dam owners are solely responsible for the safety and the liability of the dam and for financing its upkeep, upgrade and repair. 

It is important for owners to be fully aware and to understand State and/or Federal laws that govern the safety of their dams and to be educated on the latest technical standards, guidelines, techniques and tools for dam safety engineering and emergency preparedness. One way to address these issues is through State outreach to dam owners/operators/tenders; to train them about their responsibilities and liabilities as dam owners; therefore, establishing an ongoing, trusted communication relationship between the state regulator and the dam owner.

With a grant from the FEMA National Dam Safety Program, ASDSO created a Dam Owner Workshop program in 2001. Three one-day courses are currently available for use by State Dam Safety Programs.  Instructors are available through ASDSO for all courses. The courses includes all audio/visual materials, instructor presentation notes and a student manual—including the presentation visuals, a detailed guide for each topic, and a CD or link to online content with state laws and policies, topic fact sheets, sample forms for owners, technical notes and guidelines.

The courses can be presented by 1) ASDSO Dam Owner Education Trainers, who are engaged by ASDSO and are experienced and knowledgeable about dam safety and dam safety engineering; or, 2) by state dam safety personnel or other personnel engaged by the state to perform the training, who have either participated in a previous workshop or have been trained on the materials by ASDSO. 


The 3 Courses are:

  1. The Need-To-Know Basics of Owning a Dam: An introduction to dam ownership. This is a course emphasizing practical, straightforward information on topics of importance to anyone who owns or operates a dam.
  2. Dam Engineering 101: An introduction to how dams work for owners, operators or engineers not familiar with dam safety. This is intended to be an owner-friendly look at dam engineering to help owners/operators recognize problems and emergency situations, improve operations and perform or schedule preventive maintenance.
  3. Operation & Maintenance: This seminar will assist dam owners to a) understand the parts that make up a dam and how they work together; b) recognize typical problem areas that require maintenance; c) distinguish between maintenance and repair issues; and, d) learn operation and maintenance procedures.

A fourth on Emergency Action Planning and Testing is currently under development.



Costs range from $12,000 to $18,000 per workshop day depending on how little or how much logistical and instructional support the State needs. ASDSO and the trainer work directly with states or other groups/agencies requesting a workshop to set them up and mold them to fit specific needs. Costs include instructors stipend and travel, advertising/invitations, meeting space costs (A/V, space rental, food and beverage), printing and shipping of participant materials, and ASDSO coordination. State dam safety representatives can choose to coordinate and conduct any course on their own - ASDSO will provide the materials. It is recommended that states choosing this option should have participated in a workshop taught by a trained instructor. Workshops can be held in hotels, state or national park conference centers, or local civic centers depending on availability and the needs of the state or organization.


For More Information

For State Dam Safety Programs - Contact Jennifer Burns at ASDSO. [email protected] or 859-550-2788

For Dam Owners - Contact your State Dam Safety Official and request that a state-specific workshop be held.


Course Agendas

Course I. The Need-to-Know Basics of Owning a Dam 
  • Session 1: Introduction to Workshop
  • Session 2: State Dam Safety Laws and Regulations
  • Session 3: Dam Failure Modes and Case Histories
  • Session 4: Operation, Maintenance, and Safety Inspection of Dams
  • Session 5: Emergency Action Plans
  • Session 6: Public Safety, Security and Dam Owner Liability
  • Session 7: Repair Projects - Hiring an Engineer Consultant, Costs, and Funding Options
  • Wrap-Up: Completing the Evaluation Form and Final Questions
Course II: Dam Engineering 101
  • Session 1: Introduction to Dams and State Regulation
  • Session 2: Basic Dam Design
  • Session 3: Erosion Is Your Enemy
  • Session 4: How Does a Dam Hold Water and Why Does It Leak?
  • Session 5: Other Common Problems
  • Session 6: Dam Engineering in Practice: Case Studies
Course III; Operation and Maintenance
  • Session 1: Course Introduction
  • Session 2: Basic Dam Terminology and Function
  • Session 3: Dam Types and Purpose
  • Session 4: Causes of Dam Failures and How They Relate to Maintenance
  • Session 5: Maintenance Problems and Solutions
  • Session 6: Operation
  • Session 7: Operation & Maintenance Manual & Wrap-Up


Participants Receive:

A Workbook with Copies of Powerpoints Presentations and Technical Information About Dam Safety and the State Laws and Regs plus information on how to access ASDSO's Online Educational Content.