New Dam Safety Program audit requirements

Posted in: Energy, Water


Dam safety program audit“The Owners Dam Safety Program is the most important factor in maintaining safe dams and preventing dam failures.” – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

With a statement like that, it’s easy to see how important FERC thinks your ODSP is, but what about those in your organization who are responsible for making it work? Do they know it exists? Do they know what’s in it and their responsibility for making it work? And, how comfortable are you that the plan as written is actually being executed?

These are the questions that should be answered as a result of an external ODSP Audit. In May of this year FERC issued guidance for completion of these audits that includes background information and the content they expect to see in an audit report.

Aside from the “requirements” it’s important to step back and consider the benefits of this process. Rather than considering it an exercise in checking the boxes and producing another report we feel this is an excellent opportunity to improve your dam safety program. Understanding how your program works and interviewing team members at all levels of your organization are keys to identifying knowledge gaps or areas where the plan needs to be clarified. A fresh set of eyes can help you to see things that might not be apparent from inside your organization.

We suggest approaching your external ODSP audit in a positive way, acknowledging the benefits that you will receive. An ODSP is not a generic, one-size-fits-all plan, but rather a tailor-made compilation of the people, processes, training, surveillance and, most importantly, commitment to dam safety found within your organization. If any of these elements is missing from your plan, the sooner you know about it, the better.


Carson Mettel, PE

About the Author

Carson Mettel, P.E., is Mead & Hunt’s National Market Leader for Dams and Hydropower and the Vice-Chair of the National Hydropower Association’s Small Hydro Council. He has 35+ years of experience working with water resources, dams and hydro power projects. In his hours away from work, Carson is a pie connoisseur and enjoys biking, two interests that definitely complement each other.

Read more posts by Carson Mettel, PE

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