Oroville happened. FERC responded.
The last time the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made this many changes to their engineering guidelines, mixtapes were still a thing. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but FERC has recently announced a slew of updates to their guidelines driven by lessons learned from the Oroville incident and an internal review of their own dam safety program.
The biggest change of all may be the creation of a two-tier Independent Consultant (IC) safety Inspection program (aka Part 12 inspection), including both periodic and comprehensive reviews. The IC inspections will still be completed on a 5-year cycle alternating between the current general review of operations and performance, and a more in-depth comprehensive review of design basis, construction history, spillway adequacy, Potential Failure Modes, and a Risk Analysis.
Also part of this new guideline chapter is FERC’s emphasis on review of the IC team, rather than an individual person. The team will need to have sufficient knowledge in all areas needed for the specific project being inspected.
New guideline chapters have been added for Supporting Technical Information Document and Potential Failure Modes Analysis (formerly parts of the Dam Safety Performance Monitoring Program chapter), along with an entirely new chapter on the Level 2 Risk Analysis process.
These changes will touch on almost all elements of an Owner’s dam safety program, so I suggest you take the time to read them. The good news is that FERC is accepting comments on these proposed changes until September 14, 2020. More information about what’s happening and how to submit comments can be found here.
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