One of the most important issues during design and construction of an earthfill dam is how to secure a dam against unwanted events which may occur as a result of water flow (uncontrolled seepage, leakage & piping) through the dam.
Although earthfill dams are the largest by volume compared with other types of dams and they are designed to cope with seepage, their integrity is most sensitive to the effects which may be caused by it. The reason being that the earthfill materials are generally extremely heterogeneous and only one “unwanted” pocket is enough to create problems.
Another critical area is the foundation. In many situations it is not possible to avoid the complex geology which includes faults and joints as part of the foundation. An additional complication may be the presence of dispersive clay in the foundation.
In the area of tailings dams, the problems with seepage are slightly reduced as in most cases, tailings provide a degree of sealing. Tailings dams are very often designed as leaky dams. However, there is a hidden danger in approaching the design this way as at any stage of their lives they can retain water.
This paper presents two case histories of repairs carried out to tailings dams suffering leakage. One case describes leakage through the embankment wall while the other describes seepage through the foundation which contains dispersive soil.
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Trevor Daniell, David Kemp and Jenny Dickins
Early February 1997 saw the occurrence of heavy rainfalls over a wide area of South Australia’s north. One of the worst hit areas was near Olary, in eastern South Australia, where over a three day period, rainfall totals up to 320 mm were recorded. Within this period, localised, short duration intense rain occurred. In one four hour period on 7 February, about 200 mm fell.
The rain produced floods that washed away large sections of the main Sydney to Perth railway and inundated long sections of the Barrier Highway. Repair costs were of the order of $6 m for the railway and $1.5m for the road. Damage to rural infrastructure in the region was substantial. Flows within the catchment would have been sufficient to wash away most stream gauging stations.
The airmass over much of South Australia was of tropical origin, contained a high amount of moisture and was unstable. Thunderstorms were the main rain producer, consequently the event was characterised by localised, very intense rain episodes. This contrasts with the March 1989 floods, where it rained at a fairly steady rate over large areas for durations up to 24 hours, as a monsoon low tracked across the state.
Analysis of the depth-area relationship for the Olary storm indicates that the relationship to be used for design purposes should be the humid area relationship of Australian Rainfall and Runoff, not the arid area. This is reinforced when it is considered that the 1997 rainfall was localised, not general rain as in 1989.
Investigation of the event indicates that the Olary Creek catchment experienced overland flow, resulting in much higher peak flows than would occur with more frequently occurring “normal” processes. It is possible that any catchment may change its behaviour with extreme rainfall, and produce flows well in excess of those predicted with currently available runoff routing models, or flood frequency analysis of “normal” events.
Increasingly, owners of ageing dams are having to reconcile with the notion of involving others in decisions affecting the management of their dams. Previously recognised as ‘expert’ exclusive arenas, doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers are now expected to respond to enquiring consumers and communities. Individuals and communities are expressing their need to share responsibilities.
Events at Hume Dam provide an illustration of the potential challenges and opportunities that all Dam Owners may face. This paper is a narrative of the processes of involving the wider ‘community’ in the Hume Dam remedial work project. It remains for the stakeholders to rate the effectiveness of the process.
Gary Gibson, Wayne Peck, Ian Landon-Jones and Kumara Arachchi
One of the first seismograph networks designed specifically to record local earthquakes was installed about Sydney in 1958. This network was converted to telemetry in 1983. In 1992, Sydney Water Corporation upgraded the network, integrating the functions of earthquake location and magnitude, measurement of the response of structures to earthquake motion, and provision of information for emergency response. The response function has been developed over the past six years, and is now an “Earthquake Preparation, Alarm and Response” system that provides customised information very soon after any significant event.
M Scuero and Gabriella L Vaschetti
The use of watertight synthetic geomembranes as waterproofing and protection elements for all types of dams started in Europe in the late 1950s and has since been widely applied all over the world as long term repair measure, or as the only element providing watertightness since the design and construction stage.
D. C. Green
The disaggregation of public water supply bodies in recent years has seen the functions of ownership, design and operation transferred to separate bodies. Consequently , issues of risk management associated with legal liability which previously could be ignored because all risks were absorbed in -house must now be faced and addressed in a more formal way.
This paper looks firstly at the general principles of legal liability for dam performance associated with construction and design, ownership of an existing dam and monitoring of its performance. Liability under several different areas of the law is discussed. Special issues associated with “design and construct” contracts are then highlighted, and warnings are given for project sponsors who control the letting of contracts and the briefing of consultants.