Much like buildings, bridges, and roads, dams are designed and constructed to function effectively for a specific period of time. This period of time is called design life. The design life of a dam will vary, but it is not unusual for a dam to function effectively for 100 years or more. Concrete structures, spillway and drain pipes, valves and gates, embankment surfaces, and so forth, deteriorate and usually require repairs at some point during a dam's design life.
The Dam Safety Program has the responsibility to ensure that dam repairs, typically identified during the Dam Safety Inspection Process, are properly designed and constructed. This serves two purposes. The first is to ensure that the health and safety of downstream residents and structures are protected from the catastrophic effects of a dam failure. Secondly, the dam owner is assured that the design and construction of repairs are done in accordance with Ohio's dam safety laws and sound dam safety engineering principles and practices.
It is essential to hire someone with a professional engineer certification registered in the State of Ohio, with a background in civil or agricultural engineering, which is competent in the field of dam safety. This not only ensures that the repair design will be in accordance with sound engineering practice, but also is required by the law.
According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, preferred criteria to look for in a prospective engineer include the following:
A licensed professional engineer registered in the State of Ohio;
A minimum of 10 years experience in dam design and construction;
A knowledge of the regulations governing dam design and construction in Ohio;
Specific experience in the problem area, e.g., hydrology, hydraulics, structural, or geotechnical engineering.