September 10, 2021

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Conrad Ginther, Lucas de Melo, and Michael Houlihan to Present on Dam Safety and Stability at Dam Safety 2021 National Conference

Lucas de Melo, Ph.D., P.E. (Maryland) will present "Challenges of Managing Risk for Tailings Dams Under a Water Dam Regulatory Framework," and Conrad Ginther, P.E.. (Tennessee) and Mike Houlihan, P.E. (Maryland) will moderate sessions on dam safety and stability at the Dam Safety 2021 National Conference at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee on September 9-15, 2021.

Geosyntec is exhibiting at the conference. Attendees should stop by our booth #607 to learn about our latest advancements in using state of the practice modeling and analytical methodologies to perform standards-based deterministic and risk-based probabilistic evaluations of earthen dams and levees, concrete dams, spillways, outlet works, and other ancillary structures.

Conrad Ginther is a Principal Engineer based in Tennessee with more than 15 years of experience focused on delivering dam safety and seepage barrier projects that advance the state of the practice. He oversees complex and high-profile engineering projects and has a strong background in specialty geotechnical construction, dam safety, design, and remediation for embankment and concrete dams. Conrad specializes in design and implementation of seepage barriers including drilling and grouting, cut-off walls, and composite barriers. He has extensive experience with best practices in dam safety, including participating in numerous dam safety inspections for projects regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and other federal and state agencies. Conrad has experience as an engineering consultant, contractor, and owner's representative on high-profile projects in the U.S. and abroad.

Lucas de Melo is a Senior Principal Engineer based in Maryland with more than 20 years of experience in dams and mining related projects, geotechnical design and field studies, risk quantification, hazardous materials remediation; and in the design of coal ash disposal sites, solid waste management facilities, and capping systems for site closures. As a consultant, Lucas provides clients analysis, monitoring, and assessment of geotechnical data associated with design, monitoring, and construction on dredge disposal and mine sites. He is also experienced in quality assurance procedures for geosynthetics and soils.

Mike Houlihan is a Senior Principal Engineer based in Maryland with more than 30 years of experience focused on industrial and municipal waste management, waste containment system design, geotechnical engineering, environmental remediation, revitalization of impaired properties, construction engineering, and litigation support, including expert witness work. Mike has taken a leadership role in the evaluation and application of innovative waste management technologies, including project work and committee work related to landfill alternative cover technologies, disaster debris management, and long-term use of landfills.

Dam Safety 2021 will feature two general sessions, 38 concurrent sessions, and more than 20 lightning talks on dam safety, stability, and other related topics. Registered attendees can view all sessions and talks as well as an additional 14 presentations on-demand.

The Association on State Dam Safety Officials has a mission of improving the condition and safety of dams through providing education, supporting state dam safety programs, and fostering a unified dam safety community.

Geosyntec Participation

Concurrent Session 3: Focus on Construction of Gates and Valves
Moderator: Mike Houlihan
Date and Time: Sept. 13, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
This session will feature presentations on "Efficient Rehabilitation of Five (5) 33 Ton Radial (Tainter) Gates at Eucha Dam, OK," "Designing for the Underwater Construction of Inlets at Loch Lomond Reservoir," and "Early Contractor Involvement and Construction for the Lake Vermillion Dam Tainter Gate Replacement Project."

Concurrent Session 7: Foundation Treatments
Presenter: Conrad Ginther
Date and Time: Sept. 13, 2021 at 3:30-5:00 p.m.
This session will feature presentations on "Construction of a Deep Slurry Cutoff Wall for the Sacramento River East Levee Program," "Micropile Underpinning of the Historic Prairie Du Sac Dam Spillway - Support for the Next 100 Years," "and "Increasing Safety of Drilling in Earth Embankment Dams Using a Hybrid Drill Rig for Logan Martin Dam."

Challenges of Managing Risk for Tailings Dams Under a Water Dam Regulatory Framework
Presenter: Lucas de Melo
Date and Time: Sept. 15, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Tailings dams in the United States are typically regulated under essentially state-based dam safety regulations that were developed primarily for water dams. These regulations usually address the full range of the dam lifecycle, including permitting, design, construction, and operation. However, because tailings dams are constructed progressively and hold substantially different materials than water dams, and because the timeframe of performance is so much longer for tailings dams than water dams, there are limits to the applicability of water dam regulations to tailings dams. These significant differences warrant more specific regulation and guidance for tailings dams than is currently available in many jurisdictions. The need for more specific regulation and guidance has become more apparent in light of recent tailings dam failures and subsequent research on the characteristics and performance of tailings dams, which have demonstrated the unique geotechnical parameters and behavior of tailings. This paper will describe key differences between water dams and tailings dams in relation to their regulation in the United States. Firstly, the current regulatory framework for tailings in the United States will be summarized, including Federal, State, and local requirements. Then, the differences between the geotechnical performance of water dams and tailings dams will be described, focusing on the current regulatory approaches for considering long-term strength of materials and alternatives to these approaches that better represent conditions unique to tailings. Next, the relationship between long-term stability and long-term safety will be discussed, focusing on a more quantitative approach to safety assessment than the current approaches, which is based on rational design intended to reduce the probability of failure and adverse consequences, not just achieve a specified factor of safety. Finally, analogs will be provided to the regulation of the closure and long-term care of such earth containment structures.

Concurrent Session 35: The Stability Geniuses
Presenter: Mike Houlihan
Date and Time: Sept. 15, 2021 at 1:30-3:00 p.m.
This session will feature presentations on "Stability Analysis of a 150-year-old Embankment Dam," "Pickwick Landing Dam South Embankment Seismic Upgrade Project," and "Insights into Rapid Drawdown Rate and Stability from Infinite Slope Analysis."

Dam Safety Videos

More Information

About the event: Dam Safety 2021
About the Association of State Dam Safety Officials: https://www.damsafety.org/
About Geosyntec's Dam Safety Practice: https://www.geosyntec.com/markets/dams/dam-safety
For consultation regarding dam safety, contact Lucas de Melo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Learn more about Derek: Derek Morley