Lelio Mejia is a Senior Principal Engineer based in California with more than 35 years of experience in geotechnical and earthquake engineering. For many years, he has focused on the challenges of dam and levee engineering and is a leading international authority in this field, with emphasis on the seismic design and performance of dam structures. Lelio leads Geosyntec’s Western U.S. dams and levees practice and is a registered civil and geotechnical engineer.
Lelio has directed the investigation and seismic stability evaluation of more than 25 large earth dams, and has been involved in the design and construction of more than 15 major dam projects worldwide. He has also served on technical review boards and expert panels for U.S. Federal and State Agencies, water and power utilities, and other owners on various dam projects.
He has led the design and helped owners manage the construction of several dam projects, including projects with more than $300 million in construction costs. In the U.S., he has successfully led many projects through the approval process of regulatory agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the California Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD). Most recently, he was project manager and chief engineer for the design and construction inspection of a large embankment dam that is part of the $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal.
Throughout his career, Lelio has endeavored to advance the state of practice. He has conducted research on the use of three-dimensional and nonlinear models for the dynamic response analysis of dams and on liquefaction failure during earthquakes, and he has authored over 90 peer-reviewed technical papers. He developed earthquake loading criteria referenced by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) for the seismic design of dams worldwide.
Lelio currently serves as Chair of the United States Society on Dams (USSD) Earthquakes Committee; as a Member of the ICOLD Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design; and as a Member of the National Research Council (NRC) Committee for the State of the Art and Practice in Earthquake Induced Soil Liquefaction Assessment. Until recently, he was a Secretarial Appointee to the Advisory Committee on Structural Safety of Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities, and Chair of the Governance Board of the National Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). He has also been a Lecturer of Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering at the University of California at Davis and an Extension Instructor in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. He was a member of the editorial board for the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Geotechnical Engineering and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).