CDA guidance on dam safety during COVID-19 pandemic

The CDA Mining Dams and Dam Safety committees have joined forces to provide dam safety guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the core of our message is that the fundamental principles of dam safety described in CDA Guidelines still apply, and that monitoring and emergency planning activities are essential to the safe performance of a dam.  

The CDA understands that many operators have already implemented modified protocols for the safety of staff including:
Reduced staffing levels with the identification of essential employees
Best use of available technology to promote social distancing and self-isolation
Application of remote sensing and monitoring of the instruments
Redundant communication systems or methods to allow social distancing.

Operators will need to account for the implementation of these pandemic measures, while managing operations during the normal challenges of ongoing operations such as high flows during the spring freshet, forest fires or earthquakes, or unplanned maintenance outages.  

CDA encourages dam owners and operators to focus on the following:  
Review emergency response or action plans, and plan for how they will be implemented with pandemic staffing restrictions
Review operations and maintenance plans, and plan for how routine or unplanned work will be implemented with pandemic staffing restrictions
Review operations plans for unusual events – such as loss of site access, key staff, or communications – and plan for how these will be managed with pandemic staffing restrictions
Continue monitoring and maintenance of critical instrumentation and controls, including reservoir or tailing storage elevation
Ensure any construction monitoring continues as required for dam safety
Ensure regulatory and compliance requirements are being met with pandemic staffing restrictions.

Though we all look forward to a time when this is behind us, as part of CDA’s mission to encourage cooperation and advance technical knowledge related to dams we are encouraging members to consider documenting their “lessons learned” and sharing through the various forums that CDA provides, such as the CDA Bulletin magazine, future Conferences or regional workshops.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments about CDA and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact me at

Catrin Bryan, M.Sc., P.Eng., PE