USACE Chicago District hosts Dam Safety risk communication training workshop

USACE Chicago District
Published July 1, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Chicago District recently held a Dam Safety risk communication training workshop for its Chicago, Seattle, and Galveston districts. Over 30 USACE personnel participated in five days of lecture discussions and facilitated sessions particular to each district’s area of responsibility.

The virtual workshop included facilitators from the National Risk Communication Community of Practice, and participants from Galveston, Chicago, and Seattle districts.  Chicago District team members that participated were from the Geotechnical Engineering-Dam & Levee Safety Section, Hydraulics and Environmental Section, Emergency Management, Planning Branch, Wabash Project Office, Fox River Project Office, Illinois Waterway Project Office, and Public Affairs Office.

In September 2020, HQUSACE established preliminary guidance for priority activities for the USACE Dam Safety Program that focus on communicating risk information to internal and external stakeholders. These activities included developing and implementing project-specific communication plans for all high and significant hazard potential dams, along with a training workshop at each district to aid in developing these plans.

The Chicago District team decided to develop a Risk Communication Plan on a basin approach, since its project stakeholders are generally grouped by basin. The basins include the Upper Wabash River in north central Indiana covering JE Roush, Markle, Salamonie, and Mississinewa dams; the Fox River in Wisconsin covering the nine dams of Menasha, Upper Appleton, Lower Appleton, Cedars, Little Chute, Kaukauna, Rapid Croche, Little Kaukauna, and DePere; the Upper Illinois River in northeast Illinois covering the Chicago Lock, TJ O’Brien, and Lockport; and the Indiana Harbor and Canal – Confined Disposal Facility. 

“During the workshop, we focused on the plan for the Upper Wabash projects, and key members of the other basins began working plans for the other projects,” Bill Rochford, Chicago District Dam Safety project manager, said. “The communication plans are to help USACE proactively share dam and flood risk information with key audiences and stakeholders to inform the public about why the dam was built, the value it provides, the associated risks with the projects, and how the responsibility of these risks are shared and managed.” 

Bill Rochford has been serving as the Chicago District’s Dam Safety project manager (DSPM) since 2001, currently on a detail for 120 days to HQ-Civil Works Branch in the Geotechnical, Geology, and Materials Group. But while he’s doing that, Daniel Ferris, senior geotechnical engineer, is acting DSPM.

“I am excited for the opportunity to step in for Bill as the acting DSPM for Chicago,” Ferris said. “Having this workshop near the beginning of my start was a great way to be introduced to the various basins and their teams.  The dam safety program in Chicago has expanded so much, going from 2 dams to 16 since the district realignment so it is important that the DSPM gets that breadth of what’s going on across the district’s dams.”

The duties of the DSPM, defined in ER 1110-2-1156, include coordinating and implementing the District Dam Safety Program; reviewing all district dam safety inspection reports; and ensuring inspection personnel are trained to warrant that the inspections identify and document critical issues of the projects.

Serving on the district’s Dam Safety Program Delivery Team are:





John A. Groboski Jr., P.E.

Chief, Engineering Branch


Dam Safety Officer (DSO)

Overall responsibility for successfully implementing the district dam safety program.

William A. Rochford, P.E.

Chief, Geotechnical – Dam & Levee Safety Section


Dam Safety Program Manager (DSPM)

Manages daily activities of the district dam safety program.  Assigns leads and ensures teams are properly trained.  Maintains inspection schedules and ensures program execution is accomplished.  Ensures reports are properly reviewed, approved, transmitted, and filed.  Develops budget request. 

Adam P. Borelli, P.E.

Operations Program Manager


Funding Manager

Assure responsible development of program, budget requests and execution


Basin / Project

  • Upper Wabash River, IN:  Tim Flaherty
  • Lower Fox River, WI:  Dan Ferris
  • Upper Illinois River:  Joe Kissane
  • Chicago Lock:  Mike Haefeli
  • Indiana Harbor & Canal-Confined Disposal Facility:  Jan Merl


Dam Safety Coordinator

Lead team for annual and periodic inspections, risk assessments, EAP updates, dam safety training, and emergency exercises.  Coordinates with Project Staff.  Collects and analyze project instrumentation measurements and prepares instrumentation reports. 




“An effective safety program requires continuous and periodic project inspections and evaluations,” John Groboski, chief of the Engineering Branch and district Dam Safety Officer, said. “The Dam Safety Program seeks to ensure that Corps-owned and operated dams do not present unacceptable risks to people, property, or the environment, with the emphasis on people.” 

Related to this effort, USACE will be releasing a major change to the National Inventory of Dams (NID). This database is a repository for all dams in the United States that USACE maintains in cooperation with FEMA and state agencies. 

“The upcoming changes to the NID are to provide more information to the public to include a more detailed description of the dam, the risk characterization of the dam, and the risk management actions being implemented,” Rochford said. “In addition, maps of potential inundation areas in the event of a breach of the dam will now also be available for USACE dams. The new NID is scheduled to become publicly available late this calendar year.”