Small dams: Design, Surveillance and Rehabilitation

This bulletin was prepared as a guide for small dam owners, engineering, Government agencies, developers and contractors who are in charge with the design, construction, operation, maintenance and safety of small dams.

Design criteria and typical features for small dams are generally different from those for high dams, because the construction methods focus upon economy. So the risk may increase and corresponding accidents may cause significant victims. The basic principle of design is to produce a satisfactory functional structure at a minimum total cost. At the “Peculiar Features about the Design of Earthfill Dams” are presented the important contributions from China, United States, France South Africa, Australia and Japan, related to the recommended embankment slopes for small dams based on the experience with the construction of a large number of those small structures.

“Guidelines on Surveillance of Small Dams” presents the main recommendations in order to assure that the dams will behave appropriately and with a minimum cost. The construction of a dam can involve a significant investment and dam owners need to ensure that their money is well spent and that their dam becomes an asset.