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Changes to the estimation of extreme rainfall events resulted in significant increases in the estimates of the PMF since the original design of Wivenhoe Dam. To upgrade the dam to meet these new requirements, SEQWater (owner and operator) formed an Alliance with Leighton Contractors, Coffey Geosciences, MWH and the NSW Department of Commerce.
The option selected for the upgrade works included the construction of a new secondary spillway, upgrade of the existing gravity section, radial-gated spillway, and strengthening of the dam crest.Learn more
Value management was key throughout the project ensuring the Alliance was continually looking to
improve practices, increase cost-effectiveness and create innovative solutions for design elements of the project.
On numerous occasions when the design was challenged, the Alliance made ‘best for project’ decisions to carry out additional investigations or design work to pursue alternatives. As an example, the powerful tool of Computational Fluid Dynamics was used in the analysis and design of flow deflector plates on the existing spillway, which were an alternative to the originally designed gate locking pins. The investigation and development of this alternative resulted in significant cost savings and a more effective design solution.
This paper presents aspects of the design carried out by the Wivenhoe Alliance, lessons learned, and the way continual investigations during construction provided value for money solutions.
What happens when the people that undertake early environmental investigation stay on as part of the delivery team throughout the design and construction phases of a major project such as the Wivenhoe Alliance?Learn more
Often, the early investigation for projects, particularly in the case of environmental impact assessments and approvals processes, is carried out independently of the construction team. In the case of the Wivenhoe Alliance, these issues were set out in the scope of the project itself and delivered by the same team during construction.
The benefits and outcomes have been impressive not only for the project, but for SEQWater and the local community into the future. Improved biodiversity values, increased water quality protection, safety improvements, and value for money are only some of the key benefits experienced.
Individuals within the team also benefit. Environmental professionals are able to implement their
knowledge ‘on-ground’ and progressively improve practices in an area of constant change due to
construction initiatives and timeframes.
This paper explores the specific areas in which the involvement of environmental professionals throughout early investigation and planning, design and construction have benefited the Wivenhoe Alliance and the outcomes that have resulted from this innovative approach.
The Wivenhoe Dam Spillway Augmentation Project involved the construction of an additional spillway on the right abutment of the main dam. The right abutment is located in massive sandstones and siltstones of Jurassic and Upper Triassic age.Learn more
Seismic refraction surveys and borehole drilling conducted at the design stage for the project
indicated that part of the spillway area was likely to be marginally rippable to unrippable using a
Caterpillar D9 bulldozer or equivalent. Further assessment and rock strength testing was conducted during the initial stages of excavation where D9 and D10 bulldozers were in operation. The results from this further work indicated that a section of the spillway extending from the proposed position of the ogee crest to approximately 100m further upstream were unlikely to be unrippable for a D9 dozer and marginally rippable for a D10.
Excavation options considered for this section included full scale blasting and load out, limited small scale ‘popping’ combined with ripping or the use of larger ripping equipment. Based on an
assessment of cost-benefit, and given the availability of larger ripping equipment, it was decided to
use a combination of D10 dozers and a Komatsu 475A bulldozer (D11 equivalent) equipped with
single tine ripping tools. The use of this equipment proved successful with better than anticipated
production rates being achieved. This resulted in significant cost and time savings for the project and reduced the likelihood of potential adverse impacts on the existing dam grout curtain, environment, travelling public and residents that may have occurred during blasting.
The Ross River Dam, designed in the early seventies, does not meet current dam safety criteria for overtopping and piping within the embankment or the foundation. The dam comprises a 40m long concrete overflow spillway flanked by a central core rockfill embankment of 130 m on the right bank and 170m on the left bank with a 7620 m long left bank earth fill embankment, which has no internal filter zones for piping protection. The embankment was extensively assessed and treated forfoundation deficiencies in 1982, and further assessed in 20002002 for appropriate upgrade options.Learn more
This paper describes the process of validation of the detailed design using Risk Based Design Criteria. This process included data mining for historical performance and original design intention,
comparison of the original design against current and historical investigations and assessment of the upgrades using the large volume of data available from previous work. A design team comprising specialist hydrologists, hydrogeologists, geologists, geotechnical and dams engineers worked within a risk assessment framework at all stages of the design to ensure the design was validated using the design Validation Model. This process incorporated assessment of crest level based on flood risk and wave overtopping, review of 2D and 3D seepage models to assess piping and foundation erosion potential, assessment of fissured soils within the embankment foundation for structural stability and evaluation of spillway model testing for potential spillway failure modes.
Basic pre-construction foundation investigations for the Ross River Dam were done in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s but a more detailed hydrogeological assessment was carried out to investigate and manage waterlogging and salinity, which developed immediately downstream in the late 1970s.Learn more
As part of the 2005 Stage 2 to 5 upgrade design, detailed conceptual and numerical hydrogeological modelling was required to predict aquifer response along the embankment and downstream. This required “data mining” and additional drilling and aquifer testing to fill in data gaps, with the filtered and re-interpreted data used to build a 3D conceptual model of the embankment and underlying geology, by a design team comprising specialist hydrogeologists, geologists, geotechnical and dams engineers. This was converted to a 10-layer, 2-million cell numerical model, to enable high-resolution modelling of groundwater behaviour for a range of aquifer properties, flood hydrographs and seepage management options. As well as a design tool, the model is a valuable monitoring tool in confirming the performance of seepage management systems and to provide early warning of seepage management failures.
The study emphasised the need to capture data for a wide range in aquifer stress, to have simple
preliminary spreadsheet models to provide a “sanity check” and to collect data away from the
embankment to allow a 3D interpretation of the geology, to the assumption of “layer cake” models.
The Ross River Dam was constructed in 1974 following design by the State Government, includingLearn more
hydraulic model testing, by SMEC. The maximum spillway discharge at that time was 1100 m3/s.
Latterly, the dam and spillway have come up for a comprehensive review given that the dam is in an extreme hazard category because of its location only a short distance upstream of the city of
Townsville. The revised hydrology has produced outflow hydrographs peaking at over 4 000 m3/s – more than three and a half times the original – to be passed through the 130 ft (39.62 m) wide
The paper describes the hydraulic modelling planned and carried out to determine changes needed to handle such high discharges. The modelling was to provide for the installation of radial gates and piers, and study of the water level, pressure and dissipation conditions in the dissipator for several key discharges through the range to PMF. Pressure measurements included transients, consideration of the potential for uplift of the basin floor slabs, the integrity of the walls to handle the differential loads, and, as a major consideration, the energy conditions in the flow exiting the dissipator and the integrity of the rock downstream to avoid erosion. Each of these aspects will be addressed in the paper both from the modelling and interpretation standpoint and from the civil structural analysis standpoint, together with a description of the strengthening works required to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
The Stage I construction of the Ross River Dam was completed in December 1973. The reservoirLearn more
reached full supply level (FSL) and then spilled in January 1974. In 1976, the left embankment was
raised to Stage II level. Spillway gates were installed in February 1978 with full supply level for
Stage 1A (FSL).
In the years following the first filling of the reservoir after the raising of FSL, salt scalding
downstream of the northern portion of the left embankment occurred. This was attributed to
foundation seepage. Investigations started in 1978 to define what remedial measures were required to ensure the safety of the left embankment. Fissured clays were first discovered in the foundations of the Ross River Dam during these investigations.
Fissures could substantially reduce the overall strength of the soil foundations. Therefore the effect of these fissures needs to be considered when evaluating the acceptable levels of reliability against embankment failure. More extensive fissuring was discovered during the current investigations and a cataloguing system was employed to characterise the foundation conditions.
A simplified layer model was adopted early on in the design but did not fully demonstrate the
complexity of the subsurface conditions. Extensive use was made of historical geological data,
current investigation data and the application of GIS systems. The resulting model more clearly
represents the foundation conditions and high degree of variability and was used in subsequent risk assessments for the upgrade design.
The Ross River Dam was first commissioned in 1974 and raised in 1976. The 8200 m longLearn more
embankment was not fitted with chimney filters and has suffered extensive desiccation cracking since it was raised. A significant component of the dam upgrade is the retrofitting of filter zones to ensure the embankment meets current dam safety guidelines.
This paper describes the process of investigation of the existing desiccation cracks and the use of Hole Erosion Tests (HET) and No Erosion Filter (NEF) tests to validate the design of the retrofitted filter. A significant challenge in the design is to provide a cost effective solution given the 7500 m length of embankment requiring treatment. Assessment of flow rates within cracks and expected piping erosion along the cracks was used to assess the required drainage capacity. This assessment of expected flow capacity allowed the deletion of the coarse filter in the design reducing the filter requirement from a triple filter to a single fine filter. Results of this assessment were incorporated into the Risk Assessment based design validation process.
This paper presents a number of innovative hydrologic investigations undertaken for the recentLearn more
detailed design of upgrades for Ross River Dam in North Queensland. A key issue for estimating
extreme floods in the tropics is the estimation of flood events of long critical durations. The
implication is that there is an increased focus on estimating the correct volume (not only the peak
flow). This paper describes the regional analysis of flow volumes that was used to validate the
estimated flood volumes.
Another issue of considerable importance is the assumed relationship between inflows and initial
reservoir level. The analyses described in this paper showed that inflows are independent of reservoir levels for the more frequent events but for more extreme events they are correlated. This has important implication on how the initial reservoir level is incorporated in the hydrologic analysis. The final aspect covered by the paper is the derivation of seasonal flood frequency curves. This is particularly important given the highly seasonal nature of rainfalls in the tropics and the results are important for assessing risks during construction and scheduling the upgrade works.
Warragamba Dam supplies up to 80% of Sydney’s water needs and is currently undergoing a range of major infrastructure upgrades. The outlet works upgrade is one of these projects. The outlet works of the dam were constructed in the 1950s and consisted of four 2100mm pipes with isolating gate valves and needle control valves feeding two large above ground pipelines running 27 kilometres east to Prospect Reservoir in Sydney’s western suburbs.
In the 1990s the then dam owner (Sydney Water) undertook a detailed and extensive risk analysis of the outlet works. The study resulted in a recommendation to remove the existing valves and replace them with a combination of emergency closure (guard) valves and isolating valves. Under the Sydney Catchment Authority (the present dam owner) work subsequently proceeded in 2004 as a design and construct contract with all aspects of construction and water supply risks identified. Stringent controls were developed and placed on work programs and pipeline shutdowns to ensure the safety of all involved and the integrity of the supply to Sydney.
The four outlets required eight large valves, which were manufactured in Germany and were required to meet stringent operational requirements.
At the time of writing three of the four outlets have been successfully upgraded and commissioned. Work has commenced on upgrading the fourth outlet, which is due for completion by the time of the conference, approximately 20 months ahead of schedule.Learn more
This paper discusses the project from the initiation of the risk analysis study, through the
consideration of options, development of the contract, and the supply, installation and commissioning of the large valves and pipe work. It highlights the role of risk assessment in selection of the preferred option and addresses some of the engineering challenges faced during the project.
A risk assessment was performed for the Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to explore the justification for imposing an operating restriction on Lake Success to reduce theLearn more
probability and consequences of an Earthquake-induced dam failure. The potential for both a sudden overtopping failure and a delayed “seepage erosion through cracks” failure were considered.
The risk assessment focused on the seismic performance of the dam, the potential life loss and
economic consequences of Earthquake-induced dam failure, and the estimated residual risk and
degree of risk-based justification for the Existing operating regime, a range of Potential Operating
Restrictions, and an Indicative Improved Warning and Evacuation System. Risk assessment inputs
were supported by seismic deformation analyses under various Earthquake loadings and pool
elevations, dam break-inundation modelling, and reservoir simulation.
Evaluations against tolerable risk guidelines from the USBR, ANCOLD, and the UK HSE, together
with insights into the relationship between pool elevation and dam failure risk, provided important
inputs for the decision to implement an operating restriction.
This paper relates to the conference sub-themes of Dam Safety Upgrades – Management ofLearn more
Risk and Due Diligence and Dam Construction.
Specifically, it relates to the changing willingness of governments to fund risk reduction in
dams compared with risk reduction in other areas.
The cost of dam safety upgrades is just one of a portfolio of risk reduction strategies
affecting the general community that governments are required to underwrite.
This paper examines the variation in acceptable risk standards between dam safety and
other areas. This may be explained in terms of what is acceptable to the community and the
courts. For instance, a corporation is likely to attempt to minimise its liability (which may
differ to minimising risk for the community). We also examine:
• a portfolio approach to safety expenditure and the implicit cost-benefit relationship;
• the impact of the asymmetric relationship between expenditure and absolute size of
potential loss; and
• the importance of a whole-of-government approach and reviewing apparent
inconsistencies in approach to risk.
There is an increasingly well-established literature on the value of a human life and
increasingly systematic approaches to the evaluation of risk and the setting of risk
standards. Risk standards are particularly explicit in the area of dam safety – they set limits
of tolerable risks for large-scale loss of life (eg. for existing dams, a loss of life of more than
10 persons with a probability of more than one in a ten thousand per annum is regarded as
unacceptable under the Australian guidelines).
However, there are significant contrasts in what is tolerated as acceptable risk between
different areas of government activity. To date, there appears to be no systematic evaluation
of the portfolio of risks or a common view on what is acceptable levels.