Introduction to Dam Safety

Online /
Mar 1 - 4, 2021 /
Course Code: 0714-ONL20

  • Overview
  • Syllabus
  • Instructor


Please Note:
This course is held online over 4 days on the following schedule (All times in Eastern Time Zone):

9:00 am to 12:30 pm Eastern

After participating in this course, you will have:

  • a basic understanding of dam design, construction, operation and maintenance, with a focus on the safe retention and passage of water
  • an understanding of the associated risks, and the requirements of a dam safety program

Dams and their appurtenant structures are unique and complex systems built for a variety of reasons including flood protection, power generation, irrigation, solid waste storage and recreation.  The importance of dam safety to the mining, industrial, infrastructure, and energy sectors of the Canadian economy cannot be over-emphasized. Various regulatory and industry practices exist for dam design, operation, surveillance, and maintenance. Dam owners, operators, and professionals need to understand the nature of the many aspects of safe dam design, performance monitoring, maintenance, rehabilitation, and upgrading of dams to ensure ongoing safe operations and performance.

This workshop is aimed at all personnel involved with the design, management, operation, surveillance, and rehabilitation of dams.

Course Outline:

  • Why Dam Safety?
  • Dam Safety Reviews
  • Dam Monitoring and Surveillance
  • Dam Safety for New Developments
  • Risk Analyses and Tolerability
  • Ongoing Developments in Dam Safety

Who Should Attend
Designers • Operators • Owners • Engineers • Consultants • Contractors • Individuals with interest in dams for water and solid waste retention, flood control, and power generation

More Information


Please Note:
This course is held online over 4 days on the following schedule (All times in Eastern Time Zone):

9:00 am to 12:30 pm Eastern

Why Dam Safety?

  • Types of dams and how they fail with Selected Case Histories.
  • Canadian Dam Association and CDA Dam Safety Guidelines
  • The Status of Dam Safety Regulations in Canada

Dam Safety Reviews

  • Frequency:  Audit versus Comprehensive DSRs
  • Hazard Potential Classification of Dams
  • Seismic Evaluations
  • Site Specific Hazard Analyses
  • Site Response Analysis
  • Liquefaction
  • Flood Routing
  • Flood Evaluations
  • Types of Conveyance Structures and Flood Routing Equipment
  • Flow Control Considerations


  • Stability Evaluations
  • Concrete dams
  • Embankment dams
  • Seepage, Piping and Internal Erosion
  • Concrete dams
  • Embankment dams


  • Emergency Preparation and Management
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Public Safety

Dam Monitoring and Surveillance

  • Instrument Types and Reliability
  • Performance Based Monitoring
  • Applications - Case Histories

Dam Safety for New Developments

  • Layout considerations
  • Design criteria, recommendations and rules-of-thumb

Risk Analyses

  • Failure Modes Assessment - Group Exercise
  • The Role of Risk Analysis in Dam Safety Management
  • Dam Safety Deficiencies
  • How safe is safe enough?  Tolerability of Risk.
  • Case histories

Ongoing Developments in Dam Safety

  • Priorities in a developing dam safety program
  • What’s in the future?


Sean Hinchberger, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Sean D. Hinchberger, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Dr. Sean Hinchberger has over 25-yrs experience as a consulting geotechnical engineer in the Mining, Energy and Infrastructure Sectors. He has participated in over 75 engineering projects in Canada and Internationally specializing in geotechnical engineering, soft clay engineering, tunnels and shafts, and large embankment dams.

As one of Canada’s leading dam experts, he has been involved in the design and safety evaluation of over 40 mining and hydropower dams internationally encompassing both concrete and earth fill embankment dams up to a maximum 260 m height. In addition, between 2003 and 2010, his career included a stint as Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Western University, London, ON. As a result, he brings both professional engineering and academic perspectives to this course. Sean is currently General Manager of TULLOCH Engineering Ltd.’s Specialized Engineering Division.

Stephen Rigbey, M.A. Sc., P.Eng.

Stephen Rigbey, Hydro Consultant: Dam Safety, Risk, Geological Engineering

Stephen has 40 years experience in the hydro industry. After an education in geological engineering, he spent 30 years with Acres International (now Hatch), working in more than 15 countries and following numerous projects through investigations, design, construction and remediation. Projects included underground powerhouse complexes, tunnels, concrete and earthfill dams, instrumentation, and dam safety and seismicity assessments.

Stephen then joined BC Hydro in 2008, and for the past 10 years has been responsible for ensuring safe reservoir retention and water passage at 41 hydro sites throughout the province of British Columbia, Canada. As Director of Dam Safety, he has been responsible for monitoring and surveillance, the identification and prioritization of all associated risks, initiating Investigation and Capital projects, and providing technical oversight to these projects. He had a staff of about 35 professionals, technologists and support staff, working on a 10-yr Capital Plan totalling $1.9B in dam safety projects.

Stephen left BC Hydro in 2018, and now continues to consult to the hydro community. He has been a member of Advisory Boards for the Lower Churchill Project in Newfoundland and for audits of dam safety programs for utilities in Sweden and Turkey. He was recently a member of the Independent Forensics Engineering Team investigating the February 2017 spillway incidents at the Oroville Dam in California, which resulted in significant damage and the precautionary evacuation of almost 200,000 downstream residents.


We always want to improve the quality of our courses. Please select any reasons why you feel this course is inadequate (check all that apply).

Please check this box:
Course Rating

We currently do not have enough attendee responses to generate a rating for this course.

Fee & Credits

$1295 + taxes

  • 1.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • 14 Professional Development Hours (PDHs)
  • ECAA Annual Professional Development Points

Group Training
This course can be customized and delivered to your group of staff at your facility, saving time and money.
Sign-up for our newsletter
Canada Job Grant
The cost of this course could be covered by Canada Job Grant.

Your company may be eligible for funding! LEARN MORE