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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Raymond A. Stewart
On I7 June 1996 while investigating a small pothole on the crest 183 m high Bennett Dam an unexpected crest collapse occurred resulting in a large sinkhole. Following this incident the safety status of the dam was uncertain. The reservoir was lowered by 2 m over a six week period by spilling up to 5,000 m 3 over the spillway and through the turbines.
An unprecedented dam investigation commenced immediately and was completed December 1996. During drilling a second sinkhole was discovered at another location on the dam.
A sophisticated compaction grouting technique was developed to remediate the sinkholes to the depth of 5 m and the work was successfully completed by 1997. -The reservoir was returned to service in time to collect the freshet in spring 1997. This event was the most dam safety concern in the history of BC Hydro operations.
This paper describes how B.C. Hydro managed the crisis, and the subsequent safety assessment.
Brian A Forbes and Jon T Williams
The 43 metre high Cadiangullong Dam was constructed during 1997-1998 to supply untreated water for the Newcrest Cadia gold mine near Orange in NSW. The placement of the 110,000 m3 of RCC was performed without expensive thermal control techniques in an area of extreme climate conditions. Thermal finite element studies were undertaken during design to assess the effect of the climate extremes on construction and assist in the design of contraction joints. An RCC mix with sand proportions in excess of 50% of the fully crushed aggregate by weight was used to eliminate segregation. This also had the effect of requiring a low compaction effort to achieve density but exhibited a sheared surface texture if placed over wet. Following full scale trials the conventional concrete facing was superseded during the early stages of construction with an in situ modified RCC facing. The modified RCC consisted of a grout enriched internally vibrated RCC (GE-RCC) to provide a durable, impervious upstream face. This paper discusses the details of these three aspects and provides design, construction and performance data to date.
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.
As New Zealand’s largest dam owner, ECNZ has actively managed dam safety since its inception in 1987. During this time it has managed several major dam safety issues and enhanced its dam safety management practices. This has occurred in an environment of organisational change and increasingly competitive commercial pressures.
The change in emphasis from a primarily technical emphasis to dam safety towards a commercial focus is described together with details of highly rated dam surveillance system, some continuous improvement initiatives, and recent enhancements to the dam safety programme. The position of responsible ownership in regard to risk and legal requirements is also discussed.
Andrew Pattle and Bram Knoop
This paper provides an outline of a process that can be used to optimise regular dam surveillance and monitoring activities. The process is applicable for a wide range of dam types that an owner/operator may be responsible for. Basic assessments are made of inherent reliability and potential consequences of failure using key factors such as construction features, foundation conditions and observed performance. The key factors are combined to give a relative risk ranking for each dam. These rankings are used to determine specific dam monitoring schedules. The process focuses the monitoring effort on those dams that are perceived to constitute the greatest portion of the overall risk. The methodology is simple and provides a cost-effective framework for setting appropriate resourcing levels for dam monitoring.