Safety Culture For Safe and Reliable Dams

This workshop will feature case studies by dam owner/operator organizations illustrating positive safety culture programs and approaches by three US utilities with high hazard dams in their infrastructure portfolios.  The speakers will highlight opportunities as well as constraints and challenges they have encountered.  A summary of useful/helpful resources in this area of dam safety will be summarized and made available following the workshop.

Workshop Contact:  Dr. Rune Storesund, CCRM Executive Director (

Agenda Overview (all times Pacific)

Safety Culture in Practice – Presentations from select High Hazard Dam Owner/Operators

  • 1000 – 1045  Cooper Santee – Jason Fugate, Director, Occupational Safety and Health
  • 1045 – 1130  Duke Energy – Raymond Chow, Duke Energy Operational Excellence Leader
  • 1130 – 1215   NY Power Authority – Robert Knowlton, Vice President for O&M Services and Technical Compliance for Utility Operations
  • 1215 – 1245   Open Forum Discussion (Dr. Rune Storesund, UC Berkeley CCRM)
  • 1245 – 1300  Concluding Remarks (Dr. Rune Storesund, UC Berkeley CCRM)


Organizational Safety Culture Traits

Leadership commitment to safety values and actions
Respectful work environment
Environment of raising concerns
Effective safety and environmental communication
Personal accountability
Inquiring attitude
Hazard identification and risk management
Work processes
Continuous improvement

Learn more about Safety Culture here:  “Strengthening the Safety Culture of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry” (2016)


Del Shannon, PE (President, United States Society on Dams; Principal, Schnabel Engineering)
Del Shannon, PE is a Principal and Senior Vice President for Schnabel Engineering’s dams and levee group. He has over 30 years of experience working in the civil, geotechnical, and environmental engineering fields, with most of this experience working on the design, construction and safety of dams and levees. Del has worked on virtually every aspect of these projects: planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and safety, and professional associations. Del’s work has been recognized nationally multiple times with the US Society on Dams 2007 Award of Excellence in the Constructed Project for the Pine Brook Dam project, and by Association of State Dam Safety Officials with the 2016 and 2018 National Rehabilitation Project of the Year Awards for the Beaver Park Dam and Hope Mills Dam projects. Professionally, he contributes his time to a wide range of initiatives, professional associations, and non-profits focused on dams, levees and water resources. Some of these include:

  • President: US Society on Dams
  • Chair: US Levee Safety Coalition
  • US Representative: International Commission on Large Dams
  • Lead Author for the Dams and Levees Section: American Society of Civil Engineers, Committee on America’s Infrastructure, Infrastructure Report Card:
  • Project Manager: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Unified Tailings Dam Guidelines Project
  • Steering Committee: Uncommon Dialogue Hydropower Initiative
  • Board of Directors: Hydropower Foundation
  • Advisor: NOAA, GAO and other US Federal agencies on design resiliency for water and flood control structures in a changing climate
Jason Fugate, CSP (Senior Manager, Occupational Safety and Health; Santee Cooper)
Jason has over 30 years of Health and Safety experience and has worked in numerous industries, including DOE remedial action projects, manufacturing, nuclear and Heavy industrial industries. Jason also provided safety and health oversight of the World Trade Center (Ground Zero) rescue and recovery efforts, immediately following the events of 9/11/2001. Jason joined Santee Cooper in October 2016 and has led the safety and health efforts which have resulted in repeatedly lower incident frequency and enhanced operational support throughout the company.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, the state’s largest power provider, and one of the nation’s largest public power utilities. Santee Cooper supplies electricity to more than 190,000 retail, 27 large industrial facilities, Central Electric Power Cooperative, the cities of Bamberg and Georgetown, the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (with 10 member cities in South Carolina), and the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority. Santee Cooper provides wholesale power to Central, which in turn distributes power to the state’s 20 electric cooperatives. Approximately 2 million South Carolinians receive their power directly or indirectly from Santee Cooper. The utility also provides wholesale water to consumers in Berkeley, Calhoun, Dorchester and Orangeburg counties as well as the Town of Santee.
Raymond Chow, PE, MBA (Operational Excellence Leader; Duke Energy Corporation)
Ray Chow is Regulated Renewables Operational Excellence Leader for Duke Energy.  He leads and coordinates efforts in continuous improvement.  Primarily focused in seeking effective improvements in safety performance, reliability, and promote a learning environment.  Ray has over 20 years energy industry experience in Nuclear, Fossil, Hydroelectric, and Solar power generating facilities.  Ray has a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Nuclear Engineering, and a Masters of Business Administration.
Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power companies in the U.S., providing energy to 7.9 million customers in six states.  We have approximately 51,000 megawatts of power generating capacity in the Carolinas, Midwest and Florida – and a natural gas distribution system serving more than 1.6 million customers in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas.  We have a very diverse energy fuel mix which includes Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Hydro, and Solar.  Currently, we are transforming our customers’ experience, modernizing our energy grid and generating cleaner energy to create a smarter energy future for our customers and communities.
Robert Knowlton, PE, PMP (Vice President, O&M Services and Technical Compliance; New York Power Authority)
Bob has over 30 years of experience in civil, structural, geotechnical, and hydraulic engineering evaluation and rehabilitation of dams and hydraulic structures.  Prior to his current position, Bob was Vice President of Engineering, supporting all areas of generation and transmission.  Among his areas of responsibility, Bob supports dam safety and compliance of NYPA and Canal Corporation structures, NERC compliance of transmission reliability, and oversees NYPA’s quality assurance and code compliance programs.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) was established in 1931 and is America’s largest state power organization, with 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. NYPA provides low-cost electricity in New York State to large and small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, community-owned electric systems and rural electric cooperatives and government entities.  NYPA has a vision of a thriving, resilient New York State powered by clean energy and a mission to lead the transition to a carbon-free supply of affordable, clean and reliable electricity. NYPA’s owns and operates large hydropower plants at the Niagara, St. Lawrence and the Blenheim Gilboa Pumped-Storage power projects as well as several small hydropower stations.

In 2017, NYPA acquired oversight and operation of the New York State Canal Corporation, consisting of 57 locks and 27 hydropower stations, hundreds of miles of embankments and appurtenant hydraulic structures.  The historic Erie Canal is 339 miles long from Waterford (Albany) to Tonawanda (Buffalo). Including its laterals, the Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals, the entire system mileage equals 524.