Dams and Levees: Design and Safety


Every dam is unique in its shape and design—each with its own hydrology and hydraulics, seismicity, and geology.

Gannett Fleming’s approach to dam and levee engineering design, risk mitigation, water supply protection, and community safety is unique as well. We leverage science, technology, experience, and ingenuity to create resilient and sustainable solutions—the biggest challenges facing you, our clients.

Industry Leaders

As a planning, design, technology, and construction management firm, we provide the project experience needed for your water management infrastructure projects. It’s understandable why Gannett Fleming is consistently ranked among the nation’s leading dams and reservoirs design firms by Engineering News-Record (ENR). We have:

  • Designed more than 150 new dams.
  • Modified more than 750 existing dams and 50 levee systems.
  • Evaluated the safety of more than 1,500 dams.

Our dam projects include:

  • Earth and rockfill.
  • Mass concrete and roller-compacted concrete gravity.
  • Timber crib.
  • Slab and buttress.
  • Moveable crest (steel or rubber gate).
  • Concrete arch.

Public, private, and government agencies have relied on our services for more than a century. But we’re not looking back; our team of industry-leading engineers, geologists, and environmental planners is driving the dams industry forward.

Beyond serving your project needs, we work together with dam owners and regulators through industry-leading professional associations to share knowledge and influence new standards to provide safer, more resilient dams. As thought leaders, our professionals contribute to educational programs in partnership with the:

  • Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).
  • United States Society on Dams (USSD).
  • International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).

Hydraulics and Hydrology

Our team uses a combination of 1D, 2D, and 3D models to evaluate complicated hydraulic environments, including the safety and suitability of:

  • Spillways.
  • Outlets.
  • Penstocks.
  • Open channel canals.

This results in better designs and successful solutions.

Risk-Informed Decision Making

Risk-Informed Decision Making (RIDM) uses the likelihood of loading, fragility, and consequences of failure to estimate risk. Our engineers are well versed in the development and use of RIDM along with standards-based analyses to help you determine if dam safety investments are justified or warranted. A vastly improved understanding of the safety of a dam allows you to make risk-informed decisions, limiting your risk exposure and protecting the population nearby.

Public Safety

The potential for damage and the risk of loss of life underscores the importance of dam safety programs and planning for a safety incident. Timely notification and communication of critical information are paramount during a flooding or dam safety event. Our team provides owners with a full range of emergency management services, including:

  • Planning, training, exercises.
  • Ongoing program maintenance services.
  • Technical tools that help prepare a complete emergency management toolkit.

We assist in covering the core elements of emergency action plans (EAPs):

  • Notification flowcharts and contact information.
  • Response process.
  • Responsibilities.
  • Preparedness activities.
  • Inundation maps.

Creating Efficiencies

With every project, our team strives to identify opportunities for efficiencies. Creating efficiencies can result in innovative materials reductions, compressed schedules, and cost savings. By thoroughly examining every facet of a project, we seek to:

  • Uncover ways to design smarter.
  • Properly allocate resources.
  • Integrate design and construction cohesively.

With the experience of a mega-firm and agility of a mid-sized firm, learn more about our award-winning dams and hydraulics solutions below.

Dam Investigation and Design

These services include:

  • Siting studies.
  • Assessment.
  • Spillways, gates, and outlet works.
  • Environmental and safety permitting.
  • Conceptual, preliminary, and final design.
  • Development of plans and specifications.
  • Bid phase assistance.
  • Construction management and inspection.
  • Subsurface site exploration and geologic investigations.
  • Seismic and stability analyses.
  • Seepage analysis and cutoff wall/grouting design.
  • Ground modifications.

Dam Risk and Reliability Assessments

These services include:

  • Safety inspections.
  • Independent External Peer Review (IEPR).
  • Potential Failure Modes Analysis (PFMA).
  • Semi-Quantitative Risk Analysis (SQRA).
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis (QRA).
  • Seismic hazard analysis.


Are you looking for a reliable, collaborative partner? Do you have a planning, design, or construction challenge? We want to hear from you.

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Are you looking for a reliable, collaborative partner? Do you have a planning, design, or construction challenge? We want to hear from you.

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