Resilient Infrastructure for a Safer Tomorrow
The project to stabilize Mosul Dam involved planning and executing an emergency grouting program to mitigate the extremely high risk of dam failure for what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) once called “the most dangerous dam in the world.” The dam provides critical water supply, hydropower, and flood protection, yet exhibited significant foundation issues from its inception in 1985. ISIS briefly took control of the dam in 2014 and lack of maintenance, as well as damage to drilling and grouting equipment, greatly reduced Iraq’s ability to maintain the foundation.
Recognizing that the catastrophic flood resulting from the dam’s failure would impact nearly four million citizens living below the dam, the White House directed the U.S. State Department to lead an interagency task force in 2015 to investigate the necessary steps to help Iraq prevent the dam’s failure. Collaborative efforts between the U.S. and Iraq were launched to initiate one of USACE’s largest OCONUS projects, and our team supported a monumental, fast-tracked effort to help USACE define a realistic scope of work and negotiate a complex procurement. This feat required close coordination with numerous CONUS and OCONUS stakeholders: government and military agencies, AECOM divisions, foreign contractors, and in-country personnel.
USACE awarded AECOM the contract in May 2016 and we mobilized more than 100 professionals, including 60 who re-located to Mosul to provide up to 24/7 quality monitoring of drilling, grouting, and bottom outlet repair. Our team completed numerous technically complex tasks, including the following:
- helped stabilize 500 feet of dissolving foundation materials beneath the 2.1-mile-long, 371-foot-high dam
- evaluated and upgraded the dam gallery to support new drilling and grouting equipment and 24/7 operations
- surveyed the dam once per month to track and record surface movements across 400 monuments and used synthetic aperture radar to detect millimeter-scale movements from month to month
- facilitated emergency grouting and dam safety instrumentation, including industry-leading grouting evaluation processes
- assessed outlet works, developed construction drawings and specifications for several outlet works modifications, and supported related construction activities
Located in an active war zone, the liberation of Mosul from ISIS and subsequent withdrawal of the Kurdish protection forces complicated the security at the site. AECOM collaborated with USACE Headquarters, three primary USACE Districts, and the USACE Dam Safety Modification Mandatory Center of Expertise to establish a camp; implement health and safety protocols; and make vital real-time decisions.
COL Mike Farrell (Retired), former USACE MDTF Commander, said, “I’ve led a wide range of units in my career, and this Task Force is clearly the most technically capable team I’ve had the pleasure to serve with… [Regarding] competence, attitude, and overall willingness to contribute, I really could not be happier… the USACE-AECOM team is truly delivering for our nation.”