engineering practice required of many dam and levee professionals in terms that will be informative to them. Once a holistic approach is adopted by a safety program, safety professionals will need to apply it to their areas of expertise and responsibility as appropriate, given the unique qualities of the physical and social infrastructures of affected communities.

The committee’s major conclusions related to the concepts and processes necessary to bring about these changes are presented. Each conclusion builds on the preceding. A framework for process selection is provided, but because operations to enhance safety and resilience will be necessarily unique for each community, specific steps for enhancing resilience are not provided. The first three conclusions define community, community resilience, and the responsibility of dam and levee professionals with respect to resilience. The fourth conclusion addresses policy and practice with respect to information access. The fifth and sixth conclusions relate to collaborative risk management and approaches. The seventh summarizes necessary shifts in safety program practice and culture. The eighth addresses how the federal government might assist. The ninth and tenth conclusions address assessment of safety program and community processes for enhancing resilience and a framework for doing so.


Governance of dams differs from levee governance. Over 30 years, the National Dam Safety Program (NDSP) has assisted in enhancing state dam safety programs which regulate individual dam owners and their programs. As a result, safety is often equated with reducing the likelihood of dam failure. However, many state programs are unable to meet NDSP objectives, and individuals, property, and institutions are at risk for direct and indirect consequences of failure. A lack of unified standards and policies across the regulatory community causes many dam owners to grapple with conflicting standards that often ignore downstream issues and effects, and that do not address community-wide risk.

In contrast with dam programs, there is little governance or guidance for levee programs that are outside the federal domain where the Army Corps of Engineers provides some specific guidance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—managed by FEMA to map flood-prone areas, establish floodplain management regulations, and provide flood insurance—has established a 100-year base flood elevation criterion that has become a de facto standard in the absence of more definitive guidance. However, development close to levees may increase risk to people and property, with little or no liability or accountability on the part of developers. This increases the dilemma for levee infrastructure owners and managers.

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