Instruments Ensure Dam Safety

A web of 100 piezometers around Boone Dam help engineers understand how the dam is reacting to construction activities.

First impressions aren’t always accurate when dealing with engineering a dam repair. “It’s like a puzzle, figuring out which piezometer reacts to which activities,” said lead dam safety engineer Carol Ford, describing the water table and water pressure data her team collects 24/7 from more than 100 locations around the dam. “We correlate the times of events according to the drilling and grouting activities,” she adds. The instruments automatically issue texts and emails based on water spikes or falls. Ford, a longtime Tri-Cities resident, holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Florida State University; she is seen below with one of the piezometers.