For dam operators and regulators, managing aging assets is the day-to-day reality of business. Most dams were built decades ago and many are reaching the end of their initial design life. Almost three quarters of the more than 90,000 dams located in the US, for instance, will be more than 50 years old within the next five years.
Dams and embankments are different from many other classes of aging industrial asset though. Given the obvious and far-reaching consequences associated with dam failure and the potential release of millions of tonnes of water, failure of these structures is without doubt an extreme risk event. It’s not surprising that owners and operators of dams and embankment structures are increasingly focused on dam safety and effective risk assessment as part of a thorough mitigation strategy.