2019 Dam Safety Award Recipients

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Images - 2019 Annual Awards
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Images - 2019 Annual Awards
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Images - 2019 Annual Awards

2019 Annual Awards

(click to go directly to award)
ASDSO Honorary Members
National Award of Merit
National Rehabilitation Project of the Year
Regional Awards of Merit
Terry L. Hampton Medal
Danny K. McCook Medal
Bruce Tschantz Public Safety at Dams Award
Media Outreach Award
Young Professional of the Year
Joseph Ellam President’s Award
Student Paper Competition Winners
Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient

View history of all ASDSO awards


ASDSO Honorary Members

The Board of Directors will occasionally honor an individual who has contributed to the improvement of ASDSO and the advancement of dam safety over a lifetime of work. This is a rare award and only goes to a select few.

Class of 2019:

  • Stephen G. Durgin, P.E., United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Retired)
  • Ann Kuzyk, P.E., Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (Retired)
  • Larry W. Caldwell, P.E., Watershed Specialist, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

Current Honorary Members:
Alan E. Pearson
Alton P. Davis
Brian R. Long
Bruce C. Muller, Jr.
Carl J. Montana
Charles E. Karpowicz
Constantine G. Tjoumas
Daniel J. Mahoney
David B. Campbell
Elaine C. Pacheco
Francis E. Fiegle, II, P.E.
George E. Mills
J. Bruce Pickens
James R. Talbot
Jeris A. Danielson
Kenneth D. Hansen
Leon A. Cook
Martin J. Stralow
Matthew Lindon
Meg Galloway
Raul F. Silva
Richard W. DeBold
Robert H. Dalton
Ronald A. Corso
Steven McEvoy
Timothy G. Schaal
William B. Bingham
William H. Allerton
William Irwin
Zahir "Bo" Bolourchi


National Award of Merit

Chosen by the ASDSO Board of Directors, this award honors an individual or entity contributing to dam safety on a national level.

2019 Recipient:
Wayne Graham
Bureau of Reclamation (Retired)

From early in his career, Wayne Graham was fascinated by dam failures and why some failures had no loss of life and others had great loss of life. He turned this fascination into a long and highly successful career at the Bureau of Reclamation. He studied most of the USA major dam failures and some dam failures overseas and extended research from merely warning time to effectiveness of the warning, structure type, and flood depth and velocity. His years of work culminated in the 1999 Reclamation publication of A Procedure for Estimating Loss of Life from Dam Failure (DSO-99-06). This document was the industry's standard for well over a decade and today's procedure relies heavily on Wayne's research. Through his work, emergency action plans and evacuations procedures have been greatly improved, as well as the safety for downstream communities.


National Rehabilitation Project of the Year

This award recognizes a unique remedial design, for a project of any size, that advances the state-of-the-art in the field of dam safety and exemplifies the professional engineering and construction standards that dam safety requires.

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2019 Recipient:
Buckeye Lake Dam Improvements

  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Owner)
  • Gannett Fleming, Inc. (Engineer)
  • Michael Baker International (Subconsultant)
  • ASI Construction, LLC (Contractor)

Project History - Formed nearly 200 years ago, Buckeye Lake has a rich and varied history of industry and recreation. In the 1830s, the lake supplied water for the Ohio and Erie Canal systems. Following the demise of canal transportation in the late 1800s, the state-owned lake was repurposed as Buckeye Lake State Park and opened to the public. Approximately 30 miles east of Columbus, Ohio, the 3,100-acre recreation attraction soon became, and continues to be, a popular destination for fishing, swimming and boating.

Deficiency - In 2014, ODNR asked USACE to assess the condition of the dam. In early 2015, the corps determined the structure had a likelihood of catastrophic failure during normal operating conditions, posing significant risks to the public. Its findings indicated that the dam’s structural integrity had been significantly weakened by the more than 370 homes and other structures built on the earthen dam embankment. USACE also noted previous seepage and episodes of internal erosion, upstream face deterioration and trees rooted in the embankment that were creating seepage passageways that also threatened the dam’s integrity.

Dam failure would be potentially catastrophic, endangering an estimated 3,000 lives, 2,100 homes and 75 businesses, as well as municipal assets, utilities and other structures. The inundation zone had the potential to include not only Buckeye Lake Village but also nearby Hebron and part of Interstate 70, where traffic counts in the at-risk section average 41,000 vehicles each day.

USACE’s final recommendations were clear: put emergency measures in place for the immediate protection of the embankment—and then either replace the dam or drain Buckeye Lake. ODNR lowered the lake’s water level to the winter pool level—3 feet below normal operating conditions—and sought ways to upgrade the dam as quickly and safely as possible.

Summary of Dam Rehabilitation - Interim risk reduction measures (IRRM) included an embankment stability berm, upstream of the dam, to preserve its integrity, and a deep soil mix cutoff wall to stop seepage in the embankment. The project team implemented the IRRMs in eight months—nearly a year ahead of schedule—using fast-tracked construction manager-at-risk (CMAR) delivery. The interim stability berm not only protected the existing embankment, but also created a platform for workers to construct the cutoff wall. For the project’s second phase, the team designed a new buttress wall between the cutoff wall and the old dam face, to provide long-term protection against dam failure.

A groundbreaking remediation solution, never before implemented on a U.S. dam, restored critical water infrastructure, the local economy, and the safety of residents in Buckeye Lake Village and the surrounding community. The design approach not only stopped the seepage, but also pioneered a new standard for dam rehabilitations. The team’s groundbreaking decision to use deep soil-mix technology to create a standalone gravity dam upstream of the existing embankment dam is a first-of-its-kind in the country. The combination of phased construction, unique design solutions, and CMAR delivery method shortened the project duration from five to three years. It also reduced project costs by more than $40 million and created a safer, more resilient facility now and for years to come.


Regional Awards of Merit

The Regional Awards of Merit are given to individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities, or other entities working in the dam safety field that have made outstanding contributions to dam safety within each ASDSO Region.

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2019 Northeast Regional Award:
City of Fall River Community Utilities Water Division

Fall River, Massachusetts

The City of Fall River Community Utilities Water Division is responsible for the operations and maintenance of ten dams in the greater Fall River area. For years, the inventory of dams was largely ignored with little attention to dam safety requirements. However, in response to regional flooding in 2005 and a new impetus behind dam safety regulations across the state, the city embarked upon a revitalized dam safety program. Based upon findings of visual inspections commissioned by the city in 2006 at each of the ten dams, the city commenced a broad program of dam safety initiatives resulting in a decade of dam safety improvements across the inventory.


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2019 Southeast Regional Award:
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Dam Safety and Floodplain Management

During the past three years, Virginia’s Division of Dam Safety and Floodplain Management has transformed its dam safety management program from a system that required manual entry of paper forms into an Access database to an online system that allows regulatory documentation to be entered quick and efficiently, while maintaining data quality. In addition, all applications are now reviewed and validated through each step of application processing. This allows dam safety staff, professional engineers, and emergency managers at the county and state levels to quickly access EAPs, as well as all other regulatory documents, even if the DCR Office is closed due to weather or another emergency situation. During this time, the state has also started targeted, statewide outreach efforts to educate the public about dam safety.


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2019 Midwest Regional Award:
Recent Midwest State Dam Safety Retirees

  • George W. Crosby, P.G., Manager, Dam Safety (Retired), Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Robert A Clay, P.E., Dam Safety Engineer (Retired), Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Dam Safety Program
  • James T. Pawloski, P.E., Owner, James T. Pawloski, PE, LLC (Formally with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality)
  • William Sturtevant, P.E., Dam Safety Engineer, Colorado Springs Utilities (Former Wisconsin State Dam Safety Engineer)

During their more than 120 combined years of service, George Crosby, Robert Clay, Jim Pawloski and Bill Sturtevant have provided technical and dam safety expertise, offered innovated solutions, conducted countless dam safety inspections, reviewed innumerable dam failure analyses, furthered their state programs and responded to many dam safety incidents and failures. Their efforts stressed the importance of continued maintenance of structures, planning and practicing for incidents at dams, rehabilitating aged structures and making the public aware of dam safety concerns.


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2019 West Regional Award:
Brooke B. Conner, P.E.
Senior Engineer, FEMA Region VIII

Brooke Conner is a senior engineer at FEMA. Among other job duties, she is responsible for assisting Region VIII states with their National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) Annual State Program Grants. Brooke is a strong advocate for dam safety in her region and is an effective liaison between state program engineers and FEMA. Brooke's support allows the states in her region to take full advantage of their NDSP funds, and more recently the new High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) Grant Rehabilitation Program. Brooke’s passion, competence, and enthusiasm has made for effective working relationships between FEMA and the Region VIII states and often other states beyond her region of responsibility.


Terry L. Hampton Medal

This medal was established by the Affiliate Member Advisory Committee, now known as the ASDSO Advisory Committee (AdCom), to recognize Terry L. Hampton’s lifetime achievements in the field of hydrology and hydraulics and his contributions to ASDSO and the AdCom.

2019 Recipients:

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Mustafa Altinakar, Ph.D.
Research Professor
National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering (NCCHE)
The University of Mississippi

Dr. Mustafa Altinakar has made outstanding contributions to research and practices in hydrologic and hydraulic engineering for dams through the development of the Decision Support System for Water Infrastructural Security Lite (DSS-WISE Lite) system. The system was designed to provide rapid and cost-effective dam inundation simulations and estimation of human consequences resulting from the inundation. Its introduction has changed the way dam safety emergencies are handled by the states and federal agencies and allowed state dam safety offices to perform hazard classification and prioritization of dams to ensure their safety.

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Sherry L. Hunt, PhD.
Supervisory Civil Engineer
United States Department of Agriculture

The field of hydrology and hydraulics has significantly benefited from Dr. Sherry Hunt’s leadership and research in hydraulic structure design for aging dams and her development of dam safety engineering tools, training and guidance documents. Many engineers responsible for designing new spillways and developing rehabilitation solutions for existing spillways use Dr. Hunt’s research and guidelines. Her work provides for safe and economical designs of high hazard dams that protect lives and property. Beyond her impeccable technical skills, she also has the ability to communicate complex issues in a way that non-engineers can understand and has a strong drive to assist others in the profession. She is highly regarded within the dam safety community and has served on numerous boards and committees that help establish national policies for dam safety including the FEMA National Dam Safety Review Board Research Work Groups, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials


Danny K. McCook Medal

This medal was established by the Affiliate Member Advisory Committee, now known as the ASDSO Advisory Committee (AdCom), to recognize Danny McCook's lifetime achievements in the field of geotechnical engineering and his contributions to ASDSO and the AdCom.

Not awarded in 2019


Bruce Tschantz Public Safety at Dams Award

This award was established by ASDSO in 2017, to recognize and celebrate Bruce Tschantz’s lifetime achievements in dam safety, his contributions to ASDSO, and his efforts to improve public safety around dams. The award will be given to a person who takes on the role of “local champion” and works to improve safety at dams. Often, no action would be taken without their efforts.

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2019 Recipient:
Kenneth R. Wright, P.E.

Principal Engineer, Wright Water Engineers, Inc.

Over the course of his career, Kenneth Wright has been involved in many major projects related to dams. However, Wright’s professional interest in dams soon became focused on the phenomenon of hydraulic rollers that can occur at low-head dams. Wright helped alleviate this problem in some locations by designing retrofits to various dams in the Metro Denver area so that the reverse roller effect does not occur. Working in collaboration with his colleague Bruce Tschantz, Wright also served as a dam safety engineering expert on low-head dam hazards in drowning-related lawsuits in Oregon, Arizona, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa and Alabama. Wright is currently working with Colorado legislators and the Department of Natural Resources to develop a statewide inventory of low-head dams and create reasonable steps that could reduce or eliminate the number of drownings at these hazardous dams.


Media Outreach Award

The Media Outreach Award recognizes and celebrates outstanding contributions made by media outlets and journalists whose work on dam safety issues has enhanced public understanding of the impact dams have on society, the role they play as key components of public infrastructure, ramifications of dam safety incidents or other noteworthy contributions to dam safety.

2019 Recipient:
Samuel Joseph Fretwell III
Staff Writer, The State, Columbia, South Carolina

Sammy Fretwell is a journalist with The State in South Carolina who focuses on environmental issues, including dam safety. Fretwell began reporting on South Carolina dams following Hurricane Florence in 2015 and the flooding that resulted in the failure of dozens of dams. In 2019, Fretwell published two articles focusing on legislation that would weaken dam safety regulation in the state. These articles suggested a proactive approach to dam safety and encouraged legislators to continue to support the growth of South Carolina’s dam safety program. These articles were successful in drawing both ASDSO and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s attention and prompted both groups to reach out to state lawmakers in opposition of the change in legislative authority.


Young Professional of the Year

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) Young Professional Award recognizes professionals under 40 years of age working in the dam safety field that have made outstanding contributions to the Association, their respective organization, and/or the dam safety industry in general.

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2019 Recipients:
Benjamin Israel-Devadason, P.E., CFM.

Senior Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineer, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

Benjamin Israel-Devadason has dedicated his career to the field of dam safety, focusing on advanced hydrologic and hydraulic numerical modelling for dams. Benjamin has completed more than 200 dam breach models, most of which were completed using two-dimensional hydraulic modeling. He has advanced this technology and used it to develop detailed videos of dam breach scenarios for EAP exercises to help first responders. Benjamin has also developed considerable expertise in computational fluid dynamic modeling (CFD) using FLOW3D to evaluate complex spillway designs, and more recently to evaluate the hazardous recirculating current at low-head dams. In addition to these efforts, he has been an active member of ASDSO’s Public Safety Around Dams Committee and a frequent conference presenter.

Kristen Martin, P.E.
Senior Engineer, Division of Safety of Dams, California Department of Water Resources

Kristen Martin has been successful in balancing a strong technical acumen with the art of inspiring the best in her peers. Recently, her collaborative spirit helped her division navigate the year-long rulemaking effort for California’s inundation mapping regulations. Upon arming herself with the resources and information, she took the time to train her colleagues of the stringent requirements and deadlines needed to ensure the regulation’s approval. Kristen’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for a successful program in California’s dam break inundation mapping, helping to facilitate the state’s overall emergency preparedness.


Joseph Ellam President’s Award

This award is named in honor of ASDSO’s first president, Joe Ellam of Pennsylvania, and is given annually by the current president.

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Ryan Knarr, P.E.
PA Department of Environmental Protection


Student Paper Competition Winners

Learn more about the Student Paper Competition in the student and faculty resource section


Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient

Learn more about the Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship in the student and faculty resource section

Special thanks to our sustaining members