Hydraulic Steel Structure design: there’s a new code in town

Posted in: Energy, Water


SWT300x200The new industry standard for designing Hydraulic Steel Structures (HSS) is the USACE’s “Design of Hydraulic Steel Structures” (ETL 1110-2-584). HSS are key components of most dam systems. These structures are often challenging to design: they are subjected to unpredictable and fluctuating loads and can be difficult to maintain due to their location. Some common types of HSS include:

  • Radial (Tainter) Gates
  • Slide Gates
  • Roller Gates
  • Tractor (Caterpillar) Gates
  • Crest Gates
  • Miter Gates
  • Bulkheads and Stoplogs
Tractor (Caterpillar) Gate

New Design Considerations

If you’re a dam owner, you probably have at least one of these types of HSS at your dam. ETL 1110-2-584 seeks to better account for the challenges associated with designing HSS. The code includes several new design considerations, such as:

  • Target design life of 100 years
  • Additional performance factor (α) to reflect the higher degree of reliability required for HSS
  • Consideration of fatigue and fracture concepts
  • Special AISC certification requirements for fabricators of HSS
  • Extensive non-destructive testing (NDT) requirements for critical welds
LakeChelan300x402
Fixed-Wheel Roller Gate

It is important to note that ETL 1110-2-584 is intended to be used in the design of new HSS, not for design of repairs to existing HSS. If you are considering replacing an existing HSS, however, you should strongly consider designing in accordance with ETL 1110-2-584.

It can seem difficult to keep pace with all the new codes and regulatory requirements; new ones seemingly spring up every minute. However, a good consultant can help you stay on top of these changes. ETL 1110-2-584 results in more resilient HSS that are ultimately safer—and by extension, our dams and the communities they protect.


Jeff Anderson, PE

About the Author

Jeff Anderson, PE, works closely with clients to help them comply with ever-changing regulatory requirements. He takes the time to understand each client’s unique needs and relishes the chance to find innovative solutions to tough design challenges. In his time away from the water world, you can find Jeff spending time with his family, including his three energetic children. He’s also an avid supporter of the Badgers, Packers, Brewers and Bucks.

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