Durkee Elected VP at Large of International Commission on Large Dams

July 13, 2022

Man in suit sits at podium with American flag and nameplate.Member countries of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) elected globally recognized leader in geotechnical, dams, and hydraulics and Gannett Fleming Vice President Dean B. Durkee, PhD, PE, PEng, as its vice president at large.

The world’s premier dam engineering organization, ICOLD is a non-governmental organization that provides a forum for exchanging knowledge and experience and sets standards to ensure dams are designed, built, and operated safely, efficiently, and economically, and in manners that are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable.

During his impressive 32-year career as a geotechnical and dam safety engineer, Durkee provided inspection, assessment, analysis, design, and construction-phase services on over 500 dams. Currently, he is focused on dam safety inspections and assessments and the application of risk-informed decision-making (RIDM) processes. He regularly conducts risk analyses on hydropower dams, in accordance with Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) RIDM Guidelines, and on mine tailings dams, in accordance with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM). Durkee is a FERC-approved Part 12D Independent Consultant and Risk Analysis Facilitator, routinely performing inspections and assessments, potential failure modes analyses (PFMA), and risk analyses services.

Nominated by Professor Ignacio Escuder Bueno, with the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, who also is past president of SPANCOLD, Durkee is described as “devoted, innovative, generous, and committed,” noting his 32 years of generous support for the United States Society on Dams (USSD), the U.S. National Committee to ICOLD. Regarded for his remarkable ability to lead, navigate, and guide teams through high-stakes processes, Durkee currently serves as chair of USSD’s Risk Training Subcommittee and as a member of the Committee on Dam Safety. Previously, he served on the Committee on Dam Safety, Levees Committee, Embankment Dams Committee, and on the Tailings Dam Committee as its vice-chair. He also was a member of the USSD board of directors for nine years and served as president from 2017 to 2019.

Durkee attributes his dedication and service to the industry to his passion for dam engineering, commitment to building and maintaining safe dams, and a belief that the community of practice represents a unique profession within the broader infrastructure industry. To him, being a representative of ICOLD is the opportunity to expand his passion for dam engineering internationally and continue advocating for the safe design and operation of dams worldwide.

During ICOLD’s early years, when the U.S. was building several large dams, Durkee said the country was contributing to the development of the standard of practice for design and construction. Now, decades later, countries such as China are building new dams, and it is important that all ICOLD member countries continue to engage and learn from one another. Moreover, the focus of ICOLD has evolved to include the rehabilitation and modification of dams, directly benefitting the U.S., which has many dams approaching 50 years of age.

Levee safety also is an essential component of information sharing within ICOLD. For example, when the New Orleans levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. benefited from its relationships with the Netherlands and other ICOLD member countries, which had advanced levee protection around its communities, and thus influenced the design and construction of new levees.

Since not all of ICOLD’s member nations have comprehensive dam safety programs and regulatory oversight, countries lean on the organization for guidance. In his 3-year term as vice president at large, Durkee looks forward to serving the global community and contributing to the dams and levees profession, ensuring dams are built, operated, and rehabilitated safely. Additionally, he will continue his professional practice, focusing on the application of RIDM for his Gannett Fleming clients.