CDA 2020-2021 Webinar Series


Host Region: Ontario - January 20, 2021


Benefits of a PFMA for a Low Hazard Facility - January 20, 2021

 (English only)

1:00 p.m. EST 




Download Abstract Here

Conducting a Potential Failure Mode Analysis (PFMA) on a low hazard project as part of a dam safety program. Presenters will provide an overview of what is involved in PFMAs, how a PFMA process was applied to the a low hazard project, will share lessons learned from completing the PFMA, and will discuss how to use Potential Failure Modes and identified mitigating measures to enhance dam safety surveillance and monitoring programs to optimize operational and maintenance budgets at hydroelectric facilities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will learn what is involved with a potential failure mode analysis, lessons learned and how to adapt PFMAs to surveillance and monitoring systems, and how a PFMA for a low hazard site may be different than for a high hazard site
  • Participants will be able to enhance current surveillance and monitoring systems with a goal to reducing Operating and Maintenance budgets.
  • Lessons learned will provide insight into current dam safety practices and PFMAs.



Chris Vella, P.E., S.E., P.Eng

Senior Hydro Engineer

Kleinschmidt Group

Chris Vella, P.Eng has 19 years of experience in the hydroelectric industry. Chris specializes in dam safety inspections and hydro design projects including new power stations, new concrete gravity dams, rehabilitation of hydroelectric sites, and fish passage designs. He performs engineering design for a variety of hydropower structures including powerhouses, intake structures, bulkhead dams, trash racks, gates, retaining walls, penstocks, overhead crane supports, flashboards, and fish lifts. He is recognized by the FERC as an approved Independent Consultant, meeting the requirements of the Commission’s Section 12.31(a) for conducting dam safety inspections.









Carissa Sparkes, P.Eng

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

Carissa has 25 years of experience as a civil engineer working in BC and Newfoundland.  She has worked mainly in the hydrotechnical and geotechnical fields completing watershed and stream hydrology assessments, bridge hydraulic design and construction, municipal system design and construction, as well as landslide and slope rehabilitation.  She has been with NL Hydro for the last 10 years and is currently the Dam Safety Lead. 



Host Region: Saskatchewan - February 26, 2021

Upcoming Webinars

Host Region: Saskatchewan

February 26, 2021 

Lac La Ronge Dam is used to control water levels on Lac la Ronge. The major components of the dam consist of a four bay concrete control structure, a fishway channel, and a 3.3 m high rockfill dam with a relatively impervious core. During a routine inspection of Lac La Ronge Dam in June 2017, depressions and cracking were identified on the embankment crest. During the following investigations, a cloudy discharge was observed downstream, indicating material movement out of the embankment core. Temporary repairs were completed to reduce flow through the embankment and reduce the potential for piping. Permanent remediation was planned and initiated in June 2020.

In June 2020, reservoir levels were rapidly increasing due to wet conditions on the basin and it was expected that the core of the dam would be overtopped, increasing the risk of internal erosion. Increased monitoring and additional mitigation measures including a crest raise were put in place to verify the condition and ensure containment of the reservoir. The execution of the crest raise is complicated by the remote site and the lack of sufficient space at the site to accommodate permanent rehabilitation and the crest raise. The risk to the dam imposed by the high reservoir was determined to be more urgent resulting in the delay of the permanent remediation project until 2021.

Through July, the reservoir continued to rise resulting in a lack of adequate minimum freeboard. WSA then elevated the emergency classification from hazardous condition to potential dam failure. This resulted in daily on-site monitoring, satellite camera reviews, and additional mitigation measures. WSA also changed organizational structures for this response to an ICS structure and established an ICP in Moose Jaw and Regina initially. In late September 2020, the elevation of Lac La Ronge at the dam site was declining along with the upstream tributaries. As a result, a step down of the emergency classification was developed to include fewer onsite inspections supplemented by removed data collection.

The potential dam failure classification was officially removed in November 2020.

Learning Objectives:

  • Why applying an Incident Command to a Potential Dam Failure is beneficial.
  • Learn from a real world emergency response to adjust emergency action plans to be more functional.
  • Presenters will demonstrate effectiveness and flexibility of the ICS structure.

Jody Scammell

Jody leads the Operations and Maintence group of WSA. This group is responsible for the all dam safety actives associated with WSA’s 72 dams including dam safety policy and emergency planning. Along with dam safety, this group is also responsible for the operation and maintenance of WSA’s 9 Major Structures including Gardiner, Qu’Appelle, Rafferty, Grant Devine, Duncairn, Lafleche, Eastend, Val Marie and West Val Marie dams.

Jody has been working within the dam industry for the past 16 years. He received his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 2004 and completed his M.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 2013, both at the University of Saskatchewan.

Allison Ruecker

Allison leads WSA’s Dam Safety group and is responsible for the practical implementation of WSA’s dam safety management policy for its 72 dams. This is achieved through the development and testing of emergency action plans, OM&S manuals as well as leading and conducting dam safety reviews and inspections.

Allison received her B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan in 2004 and has been working within the dam industry for the past 11 years. In her early career she worked in the geoenvironmental consulting industry.

Host Region: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
March 2021 - more details coming soon

Previous Webinars


Host Region: Newfoundland and Labrador - January 13, 2021
Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Facility Construction from River Diversion to Impoundment (This presentation will be offered in French.)
Recording to come soon.

Host Region: Newfoundland and Labrador

December 16, 2020: Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Facility Construction from River Diversion to ImpoundmentIf you missed the webinar, CDA Members can view it here

Host Region: Manitoba
November 17, 2020: Keeyask Generating Station – Embankment Dams – Bedrock Foundation Preparation and Grouting
If you missed the second technical presentation in the 2020-2021 Webinar Series by Blake Holowick of Manitoba Hydro you can watch it by clicking here.  (This presentation was in English.)

Host Region: British Columbia and the Territories
October 26, 2020: Practical advances in the geological characterization and numerical analysis of existing concrete dams 
If you missed the first technical presentation in the 2020-2021 Webinar Series by Andrew Bayliss of Stantec you can watch it by clicking here.  (This presentation was in English.)


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About the Webinar Series

Webinars will be one-hour in length and will focus on a dam related topic from a different province/region in Canada or case studies or technologies that are applicable anywhere in the world.
Individuals can sign up for as many webinars as they want for no charge.