DAM AND LEVEE PROFESSIONALS AS PART OF THE LARGER COMMUNITY

A previous National Research Council report (NRC, 2011a) concluded that a framework for increasing community resilience will likely be more successful if designed by representatives of the entire community. Table 2.1 lists the elements of the community with a stake in dam and levee performance, and therefore the elements to be engaged. However, the committee observes that dam and levee professionals often operate their programs independently of other community functions and fail to understand the value of social engagement or social capital for their programs. Until they recognize the benefits of community engagement, improvements in resilience to dam and levee failure will be minimal. It is essential that dam and levee professionals engage with the broader community to identify shared goals and resources, and to collaboratively develop strategies and processes to support resilience. Simply put, a new dam and levee safety norm is needed. This means moving beyond the boundaries of regulatory compliance. Box 4.1 provides an example of how some in the dam and levee profession have begun the evolution toward new operational norms. The committee expects such norms will become community expectations of its dam and levee professionals.

New Societal Expectations

The ability of industry, government, and infrastructure owners to meet evolving societal expectations can be demonstrated by the response to recent demands for greater sustainability and environmental stewardship. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration now requires Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all new or substantially renovated federal buildings,1 and other groups are voluntarily seeking LEED certification in new construction. The dam community can be similarly responsive to societal expectations. Public-utility districts in Washington state, for example, have engaged with state and federal fisheries agencies, Native American groups, and state and federal wildlife agencies to develop 50-year hydropower habitat conservation plans to protect local fish populations through environmental restoration, fish bypass and spill systems, and offsite hatcheries.2 The goal is to ensure that sustainable hydropower will be available without compromising fish resources. Not long ago, few dam owners placed great importance on wildlife protection. Now, wildlife protection is a legal requirement, a normal part of engineering practice, and often publicly touted by dam owners as evidence of good community citizenship and environmental stewardship.

As communities become more aware of the benefits of creating, sustaining, and ­increasing community resilience, and more aware of the benefits and risks associated with

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1See www.gsa.gov/portal/content/197325 (accessed November 30, 2011).

2See www.chelanpud.org/habitat-conservation-plans.html (accessed November 30, 2011).



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