Introduction to Embankment Dams: Download

The overwhelming majority of dams in the world, and also in the United States, are embankment dams. This webinar is intended as an overview of embankment dams, to serve as an introduction for those relatively new to dam safety and a refresher for the more experienced practitioner. The webinar will begin with a review of the history of embankment dams from antiquity to today and comments on today’s inventory of dams. Types of embankment dams and embankment dam failure modes will then be reviewed, followed by discussions of design and construction considerations. Finally approaches to the evaluation of existing embankment dams and common maintenance concerns will be described. After the webinar, attendees will have an overall understanding of the universe of embankment dams, how they are intended to work, problems that can develop, and design, construction, and maintenance approaches to address those problems. Although the webinar is focused on dams, many of the concepts, failure modes, and design, construction, and maintenance issues may be applicable to earthen levees.

Key Takeaways:

    An understanding of the long history of embankment dams.
    An understanding of the different configurations for embankment dams.
    An understanding of potential failure modes for embankment dams.
    A general understanding of design and construction considerations for embankment dams.
    An understanding of maintenance concerns for embankment dams.

John W. France, P.E., D.GE, D.WRE

President, JWF Consulting, LLC

John W. France, PE, D.GE, D.WRE is a registered professional engineer providing consulting services through JWF Consulting LLC. He received BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Cornell University. John has more than 40 years of consulting engineering experience, during which time he has worked on hundreds of civil engineering projects. For the past 35 years his professional career has been focused on dam engineering and dam safety services. During his career, John has been involved in various capacities in evaluating and remediating seepage issues for earth dams. He has written numerous papers on the topic, and in 2012 he was an invited speaker at a FEMA workshop on filters and seepage remediation. He was engaged by the Montana Dam Safety office to prepare a technical note on chimney filter design for posting on the State’s website, and he has been an instructor for ASDSO’s seepage analysis course; ASDSO workshops on seepage rehabilitation and internal erosion failure modes; and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ courses on seepage rehabilitation and embankment dam design. John has participated as facilitator or subject matter expert on numerous risk analyses of internal erosion issues, most recently serving as facilitator for an internal erosion risk analysis for Mosul Dam in Iraq. In 2017, he was the leader of the Independent Forensic Team charged with identifying the causes of the February 2017 Oroville Dam spillway incident.


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