Corps, Saudi delegation discuss flood risk management

Published May 23, 2017

A 10-member delegation of government and military professionals from Saudi Arabia received a presentation on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, flood risk management efforts during a May 11 tour at Indian Rock Dam in York, Pennsylvania.

Led by Col. Ed Chamberlayne, Baltimore District commander, engineers and flood risk management experts briefed the delegation on how the district combines its systems of dams and levees and forecasting ability along with emergency management preparation to help inform flood risk management strategies. The Baltimore District team also provided insight into its guiding principles, policies, organization, responsibilities and procedures for implementing risk-informed dam safety program activities and a dam safety portfolio risk management process.

Heavy rains and flooding have plagued several regions in Saudi Arabia in recent years.  At least one person died and nearly a dozen were injured after severe weather described as “apocalyptic” broke a century-old record for rainfall in Saudi Arabia's Asir region in February 2017. Parts of the region received three months' worth of rain in just 24 hours.

Baltimore District employees brief members of a Saudi delegation during a visit to Indian Rock Dam, in York, Pennsylvania, May 11, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Cynthia Mitchell) 

Other district leaders included Julie Fritz, chief, Water Control; Steve Brown, chief, Flood Risk Management Branch; and Dori Murphy, chief, Emergency Management.

Dori Murphy, chief, Emergency Management, guides visitors on a tour of the Deployable Tactical Operation System (DTOS), a multi-level national emergency response system that provides tactical support during emergency response operations. (U.S. Army photo by Cynthia Mitchell) 

The presentation and tour were part of a broader visit for Prince Saud Bin Abdullah al Saud, deputy chief governor of Makkah for Security and Crisis Management, which also included a meeting in Washington on May 10 with Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps and Saudi Arabia maintain a long standing partnership dating back to the early 1950s, when both parties began collaborating in construction and engineering efforts with the expansion of the Dhahran airfield for the U.S. Air Force.

“We are honored to host this group today and hope our discussion is beneficial to everyone involved,” said Chamberlayne. “We will never be able completely eliminate flood risks, but we can certainly share expertise in order to best manage associated risks.”

Col. Ed Chamberlayne poses with Saudi delegation during their tour of Indian Rock Dam, located in York, Pennsylvania, May 11, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Cynthia MItchell)

Indian Rock Dam is an earth and rock structure 1,000 feet long, rising 83 feet above the streambed, with a side-channel spillway and gated outlet conduit in the right abutment. The normally dry reservoir area has a storage capacity of 28,000 acre-feet (9.1 billion gallons) at spillway crest and controls a drainage area of 94 square miles, equivalent to 41 percent of the watershed upstream from York. The flood damages prevented by the project through fiscal 2016 are estimated at $54.6 million. The dam will celebrate its 75th anniversary later this year.