Dam & Reservoir Operations Expert Witnesses

Or call us: (760) 895-4411

When a lawsuit involves allegations against dam or reservoir operations having a seasoned hydrology expert witness can be the key to a comprehensive and unbiased understanding of the case. At WRCS (Water Resources Consulting Services), we bring over 35 years of unparalleled expertise in hydrology, offering top-tier professional witness services tailored to meet the unique demands of your case.

Dam and Reservoir Operations:

WRCS has worked on over a dozen flooding cases where reservoir operations were considered the cause, or a significant factor, to the flood damages that occurred, either upstream or downstream of a dam. Mr Van Bruggen began his career working in the Reservoir Regulation (ResReg) Section at the Los Angeles District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, where he wrote “ResReg” Manuals for the District dams and called out real time gate settings to the dam operators during flood events. He takes pride in calling reservoir operations analysis one of his specialty fields.

Dam and reservoir operations may entail the opening and closing of gates and valves, the diversion of flows, the setting of spillway gates and the operation of electrical turbines. Whether a dam’s purpose is for recreation, water supply, flood control, electrical generation or a combination of the above, certain specific reservoir operations are laid out for each dam and dam operator, specifying the gate or outflow settings to enact during a flood event. These procedures are intended to minimize both upstream and downstream flooding and are usually dictated by a Reservoir Operations Manual or similar document. Sometimes these reservoir regulations are not adhered to during a flood event, or faulty meteorologic or hydrographic data is relied upon in making a gate setting decision. This can result in unnecessary flooding due to holding back water early-on in the flood, only to have to compensate for it by releasing much higher discharges as the flood hydrograph peak passes through the dam.

Why Choose WRCS?

We exclusively work in litigation support (Expert Witness Hydrologist) and have done so for 35 years. We have municipal, commercial and professional clients across the U.S., Canada and Australia.

We pride ourselves on our company history of providing unbiased, non-conflicted testimony to both plaintiff and defendant clients.
We are dedicated to helping lawyers, law firms and insurance companies navigate the complex technical world of surface water engineering, and make it understandable to our clients, the judge and the “layman” jury.

No hired guns here.
If there’s problems or weaknesses with your case theory the best thing we can do for you as an expert consultant is to tell you so.

If the technical data backs your case, we will find it, analyze it, model it, report it, and present it with graphics that a judge and jury will understand.

WRCS covers an extensive range of hydrology-related issues, including but not limited to flooding and flood forensics, flood hydraulics, watershed hydrology, drowning hydraulics, storm drain systems, dam and reservoir operations, floodplain analysis and roadway drainage. Our experts bring a multifaceted understanding of hydrological phenomena to the table, ensuring that no nuance is overlooked in the pursuit of truth.

Meet Rick Van Bruggen

President WRCS

Mr. Van Bruggen, President of WRCS, has over 40 years of engineering experience specializing in the use of systems engineering and modeling techniques to define and evaluate surface water resource systems and alternative flood control measures.

He has performed hundreds of studies of surface water hydrologic and hydraulic systems, meteorology, sedimentation, debris production, and the management and statistical analysis of hydrographic data. For over 35 years now, Mr. Van Bruggen has made use of his extensive experience in water resources engineering by serving as an Expert Witness in the field.

Dam & Reservoir Expert Witness Consultant

Or call us: (760) 895-4411

Dam & Reservoir Expert Witness Featured Cases

In February of 2017, after a winter season of record-setting rainfall in the Sacramento and Feather River basins, Oroville Dam’s main spillway began to crumble while conveying the high outflows from the reservoir. After spillway flows were shut off, and the reservoir was allowed to fill to its crest, the dam’s emergency spillway was engaged, and it failed as well. This triggered the evacuation of the City of Oroville and 188,000 downstream residents. That spring, while the dams’ spillways were being repaired, unusually high outflows from the dam were required to keep the reservoir levels low. These months of high outflows had a disastrous effect on thousands of acres of downstream orchards and farmland. Mr. Van Bruggen testified in the bench trial after conducting a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis of the outflows from the dam that spring, and then compared them to his simulated, numerically modeled, record of what the flows would have been, had it not been for the spillway failures. Client: Cotchett, Pitre &McCarthy, LLP, Burlingame, California.

Forensic Re-creation of Reservoir Operations Undertaken by the State of Queensland during historic flood event; Brisbane, Australia. A back-to-back series of tropical cyclones in January 2011 results in a number of Queensland cities, including Brisbane, going under water, creating the Australian equivalent of the U.S.’s Hurricane Katrina. The flood control operation of two reservoir projects is blamed, and becomes the subject of a number of class-action suits, claiming billions of dollars in damages. Mr. Van Bruggen developed a detailed hydrologic model of alternative reservoir operation scenarios to determine if the dam operator’s non-compliance with the dam operations manuals was a factor. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of thousands of Queenslanders who lost their homes and businesses in the floods, ruling that a “reasonably competent” engineer would have taken more action

Testified in class action jury trial regarding the hydraulic impacts of the presence, and operation, of a series of three water supply reservoirs along the Hackensack River, West Nyack, New York. Excel spreadsheet analysis conducted to forensically re-create the reservoir inflow and outflow hydrographs. HEC-RAS computer model used to evaluate impacts and alternatives. 

Client: Law Offices of Kevin T. Mulhearn, Orangeburg, New York.

Flood Operations of Two Army Corps of Engineers Reservoirs During Hurricane Harvey Evaluated for Downstream Impacts in Two Cases; Beaumont, Texas. Gate operations and inflow-outflow hydrographs were analyzed at Sam Rayburn and Town Bluff Reservoirs. Dam releases were hydrologically tracked 100-miles downstream, and over four days travel time, to Beaumont. Flood impacts on residential neighborhoods and Neches Port terminals were evaluated by flood hydrograph separation of the hurricane’s total flood flows coming off of numerous tributaries and watershed areas along the lower Neches River.
Client: The Bernsen Law Firm, Beaumont, Texas.