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Dam Safety Collaborative Technical Assistance

FEMA is offering a Collaborative Technical Assistance (CTA) series to help communities at risk of dam-related flooding to better understand their risk landscape and the potential consequences of dam-related emergencies. The CTA will include planning for emergencies related to operational discharges or dam-related infrastructure failure.

If you are interested in joining the program, email Preston Wilson.
For any questions, email Alesia Za Gara.

Once approved, the requestor will be contacted to confirm details including the location address, shipping address, dates and other logistical information.

About the Collaborative Technical Assistance Series

A Two-Way Commitment

The CTA is a two-way commitment. FEMA will provide participating communities with the necessary expertise, coaching, and tools. In turn, each community is expected to identify a project manager who will attend all relevant sessions and ensure project milestones are met. The CTA is an interactive process that requires continued, dedicated involvement from participating communities.

Highly Flexible

FEMA recognizes that communities maintain differing levels of capabilities of dam risk understanding and dam-related emergency preparedness. Therefore, the CTA series is flexible, scalable, and adaptable. After communities assess their capabilities, they should consider participating in the entire series. FEMA will collaboratively work with communities to develop a framework of sessions that best fit the communities’ level of capability.

What To Expect

Participants will engage in a facilitated planning process with community stakeholders to build relationships, develop plans, and collaborate with whole community partners to achieve the goal of increased preparedness to dam-related hazards. Potential stakeholders include local, state, and federal emergency managers; dam owners and operators; private sector representatives; community planners; nonprofit partners; and other individuals and organizations facing dam-related emergencies.

The process starts with scoping calls and needs assessment interviews followed by an in-person kickoff meeting. Following the kickoff meeting, FEMA will develop a draft plan for topic-specific, in-person sessions and webinars. All sessions will be supplemented by office hour meetings to provide additional support, as needed. Additional in-person meetings may be scheduled based on participants’ needs.

The CTA delivery team will support the entire process with subject matter experts, as well as models, tools, and templates to foster the planning process. During the process, participants will develop benchmark activities, such as forming planning teams, conducting community analysis, compiling data reports, identifying operational priorities, goals, and objectives, and developing or refining current plans. At the end of the process, a tabletop exercise will be used to examine the plans that have been developed or refined.

Format And Timeline

Prior to the kickoff meeting, FEMA will conduct needs assessment interviews with each jurisdiction. After the kickoff meeting, the CTA will consist of follow-on meetings via webinar—approximately one per month with regular coaching and mentoring sessions scheduled as needed. Additional in-person meetings will be scheduled based on participants needs. The TA will conclude approximately one-year from the kickoff.

Results

The CTA program will result in:

  • New or renewed partnerships between dam owners and operators, public safety officials, and individuals, communities, and organizations that are at-risk of dam related emergencies.
  • Greater understanding of the operational considerations for dam owners and operators before, during, and after dam-related emergencies and the associated consequences of these actions.
  • Enhanced risk communication strategies and better protective action decision-making for all dam owners and operators, public safety officials, and stakeholder organizations and communities.
  • Training on modeling and analysis of dam failure scenarios— including how to coordinate with State representatives to use the Decision Support System for Water Infrastructural Security Web (DSS-WISE) to understand likely consequences of dam emergencies and how to integrate the results into future planning or situational awareness products.
  • New or revised plans and assessments, such as emergency operations plans, emergency action plans, hazard mitigation plans, floodplain management plans, business continuity plans, and Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments (THIRA) that give greater consideration to dam-related emergencies.

Descriptions of Sessions

CTA-0 Summary Sheet Overview
The CTA is a two-way commitment. FEMA will provide participating communities with the necessary expertise, coaching, and tools. In turn, each community is expected to identify a project manager who will attend all relevant sessions and ensure project milestones are met. The CTA is an interactive process that requires continued, dedicated involvement from participating communities.

CTA-1 Community Needs Scoping and Introduction
This session provides an overview of the following topics: the CTA concept, planning for dam emergencies, stakeholder engagement framework options, and the development of draft goals and objectives.

CTA-2 Dam Risk Consequences/ Lessons Learned
This group of sessions provides the basis for developing effective plans. Specifically, it offers the frameworks and tools required to conduct a comprehensive analysis of dam hazards and increase collaboration and coordination. It also provides the opportunity to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders are included in the planning effort. FEMA works collaboratively with communities to set their own goals and objectives. Below are common session outlines and results.

CTA-3 Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
Stakeholder engagement strategies will be presented. In addition, a workshop will convene the broad stakeholder team that dam emergencies may affect within the county. A goal of the workshop is to engage partners that will support additional analysis and the planning process.

CTA-4 Plan Development
During this session, the participants will build an understanding of how to consider the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program hazard mitigation and floodplain management plan requirements. Facilitators will share overviews of how to develop a floodplain management plan that identifies how to reduce the impacts of future flood events in the area protected by the grant project. Additionally, they will provide an overview of and guidance on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The participants will also be introduced to best practices in identifying dam risk in a hazard mitigation plan. A subject matter expert, for example from the National Silver Jackets program, will be a guest speaker to provide current best practices and available state and federal resources.

CTA-5 Emergency Action Plan and Emergency Operations Plan Refinement and Approval
During this session, participants will discuss their Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) to inform the development and/or refinement of dam incident annexes to local Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs). This will also support the review and approval process, as well as ensure the plans are ready to be tested at a tabletop exercise. Finally, the CTA delivery team will review the completed annex (the Dam Incident Planning Guide/Template will be provided before the session).

CTA-6 Plan Implementation and Program Evaluation
To support dam emergency exercise community planning for a dam-related exercise, the CTA delivery team may develop an exercise planning toolkit, which will focus on helping dam owners and operators conduct dam emergency exercises. The toolkit will assist dam owners/ operators and emergency managers with identifying what elements of their dam Emergency Action Plans or Emergency Operation Plans they want to test, and providing example scenarios, injects, and strategies for engaging community partners in the exercise and beyond. This toolkit would be developed in coordination with FEMA’s National Exercise Division (NED) and ensure compatibility with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.

Last updated August 17, 2020