Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Dam Safety Monitoring

Partnering with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech developed a way to remotely monitor dams owned by the Commission to help keep neighboring communities safe.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission owns dozens of dams throughout the state and several require surveillance, monitoring and inspections.  This proved to be a challenging task with limited staff, so GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech worked with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to develop a cost-effective system, conceived by the Commission, to remotely monitor dams and provide 24-hour maintenance and support.  Using the Re:mote monitoring system, the Commission was able to view current water levels, pore pressures and rainfall data from multiple dams on a customized website.  The automated alarm system notified project personnel via VoIP, phone and text message if the measured data was near or exceeded site-specific criteria.  This instant notification allowed the Commission to immediately access the data and notify authorities in downstream communities of any condition that threatened the safety of the facility, and take necessary actions to protect residents and property.

Most of these dams are more than 50 years old and most have earthen embankments. As these earth fill dams age, increased surveillance, investigations and monitoring are required to determine the condition of a given dam relative to its structural and operational integrity. The Commission has taken a proactive approach to its Dam Safety Program by engineering a remote monitoring and alert system and partnering with Vibra-Tech to develop it. Vibra-Tech’s Re:mote Dam Monitoring system provides reliable, realtime web-based information and data retrieval at an economical cost that has also reduced staff call-outs and overtime.

Jack Rokavec, P.E.
Chief of Engineering
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission