Experts discuss dams, levees, flood risk reduction


DAYTON — Dam and levee experts from around the country convened a three-day meeting with the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) last week. The seven-person MCD Board of Consultants is comprised of experts in dams, levees and flood risk reduction.

“MCD has a tradition of seeking technical input with some of the foremost experts in dams, levees, and flood protection to advise on best practices and trends to improve the integrated flood protection system,” said MaryLynn Lodor, MCD general manager.

The Board of Consultants has provided guidance to MCD since the 5 dry dams and 55 miles of levees were constructed in 1922. In recent years they gave input on MCD’s capital improvements related to dam and levee safety projects.

“Their guidance resulted in the addition of more than 500 monitoring and relief wells, thousands of feet of drainage pipe, and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of fill material to improve dam and levee performance during high water. These improvements reduce the risk of dam or levee failure for the Miami Valley,” said Don O’Connor, Chief Engineer of MCD.

Other improvements in the past several decades have included crest improvements, wall stability, levee safety, and concrete repair projects. “MCD is dedicated to maintaining the original level of protection of the entire system by implementing risk-based decision-making for future projects”, said Barry Puskas, Chief of Technical and Engineering Services.

“The MCD structural analysis done to date is perfectly adequate for identifying prioritized needs and projects. MCD has done a good job to maintain the system with its limited staff and resources”, said Dr. John Smart, Chair of the MCD Board of Consultants. “Because of the age of the system, more investment is needed to ensure the system remains functioning to reduce the risk of a dam or levee failure.”

Early this year, MCD’s levees and floodwalls were ranked as a regional priority. MCD is now exploring funding opportunities at both federal and state levels. The MCD flood protection system is over 100 years old and there is a need for improvements to ensure it remains strong and stable. The last capital assessment expired in 2022. Later this year, MCD is anticipating seeking approval from the MCD Board of Directors and the Conservancy Court for a new capital assessment.

The Board of Consultants will help MCD refine its future capital program to address the highest risks, while reviewing technical requirements, prioritizing rehabilitation and improvements, and exploring financial strategies. The Board also toured Lockington Dam and the Dayton levee system.

The members of the Board of Consultants are:

Dr. Gabriel Fernandez is a Geotechnical Engineer and has significant project consulting experience in underground storage and ground subsidence, hydropower, tunnel projects, quarry projects, large underground openings and mines, dynamic soil and rock studies, pressure tunnels, and environmental-related projects, and serves on various boards.

Dr. Anthony E. Fiorato provides consulting services on engineering properties and durability of concrete relating to design, construction, performance characteristics, and rehabilitation of concrete structures. He is an active contributor to development of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) building code, and ASTM International materials and testing standards for concrete. Fiorato is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Gerald Galloway is a Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an Affiliate Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, where his focus is on water resources policy and management. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources. Galloway is a retired Brigadier General from the United States Army, where he served in numerous positions including Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers District in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Professor and Dean of the Academic Board (Chief Academic Officer) of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Galloway has served on numerous committees, boards and national academies. Galloway is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Marcelo Garcia is a Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics Engineer andhas been the Director of the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 1997.

Eric Halpin is retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Deputy Dam and Levee Safety Officer, Chief Dam and Levee Safety Branch, and is now in private consulting practice.

Michael A. Hendron is a Geotechnical Engineer that with specialized experience in rock engineering projects, dam engineering, landfill slope stability, and wall/slope stability analyses.

Dr. John Smart is chairman of the Board of Consultants and held a variety of engineering positions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, private consulting firms, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

MCD’s flood protection system significantly reduces flood risk for riverfront cities along the Great Miami River. Following the 1913 Flood, MCD engineers designed the dry dams and levees you see along the Great Miami River. For nearly 100 years, these structures have protected cities from Piqua to Hamilton.

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