A Perfect Storm of Flawed Judgments and Decisions






Join us on September 12, from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern for A Perfect Storm of Flawed Judgments and Decisions. Through various venues such as ASDSO’s DamFailures.org website, many in the dam engineering community today know the basic story of the Bayless Dam failure that occurred over 100 years ago in the small town of Austin in north-central Pennsylvania. The dam failed on September 30, 1911, resulting in the loss of 78 lives. In the immediate wake of this disaster, investigations to identify the contributing factors to this concrete dam failure were hastily prepared to quickly appease the public with answers. Limitations in the technological advancement of dam engineering at the time further prevented a comprehensive understanding of the failure’s contributing factors. 

Despite technological shortcomings, perhaps the most troubling aspect of this event is the fact that the disaster could have easily been prevented if warning signs had been correctly interpreted and there had not been a cascading series of flawed judgments and decisions over a span of more than two years. It also illustrates why effective dam safety regulatory programs are so important. This webinar will revisit the lessons learned from both a physical and human factors perspective in hopes of providing a sobering reminder of how immature technology coupled with one or more unchecked flawed judgments and decisions, made by people who lack adequate technical expertise, can result in catastrophic consequences. Given that newsworthy dam failures have recently occurred which also likely involved flawed judgments and decisions, and which were preventable, it is evident that the profession still needs to learn from history to prevent future dam failures.

Learning objectives attendees will receive from this course:

  • Dam engineers have a duty to dam owners and the public to clearly communicate public safety-related issues irrespective of cost implications.
  • Technical soundness of a dam design must not be second to project cost considerations whenever public safety is in jeopardy.
  • Unproven design innovations need to be thoroughly vetted before being incorporated into full-scale projects.
  • A reasonable understanding of potential consequences is an important and necessary component of sound decision-making.
  • Dam designs should be peer-reviewed by senior dam engineers and dam safety regulators.
  • Federal and/or state government dam safety agencies have a duty to protect the public and therefore should be given the tools necessary to best fulfill this role. 

View the full webinar agenda!

Registration Fees:

PDHs Available:

  • This course qualifies for 2 PDHs.

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ASDSO Launches Dam Safety Toolbox Website
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Congratulations to the 2023 Dam Safety Award Recipients!
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William Devers (Norwich University), Recipient of Prestigious Undergraduate Scholarship