Mark Foster, Robin Fell and Matt Spannagle
This paper describes a method for estimating the probability of failure of embankment dams by piping. The so called “UNSW method” is based on the results of an analysis of historic failures and accidents of embankment dams. An estimate of the probability of failure of a dam by piping is made by adjusting the historical rates of failure by piping by applying weighting factors which take into account the dam zoning; filters; age of the dam; core soil types; compaction; foundation geology; dam performance; and monitoring and surveillance. The method is intended for preliminary assessments only and is ideally suited as a risk ranking method for portfolio type risk assessments to identify which dams to prioritise for more detailed studies and as a check on event tree methods.
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D.N.D. Hartford and R.A. Stewart
It seems perfectly logical, obviously desirable and apparently sensible to prioritise dam safety reviews, deficiency investigations and capitalised remediation projects in terms of risk. However, our experience in attempting to apply the various deterministic and risk- based approaches in prioritising dam safety activities has revealed that, while it may appear to be quite logical and desirable to prioritise in terms of risk, it is rather less feasible than it appears.
This paper explores why different prioritisation processes can lead to different priority rankings across the same portfolio of dams. B.C. Hydro’s Preliminary Risk Exposure Profile process, which utilises the best and most robust attributes of risk analysis process at the preliminary level but avoids the pitfalls associated with estimating risks which will often have little or even no basis is presented. The paper explains how this process provides a “fail-safe” backup which will identify non-conservative and erroneous facility risk estimates; thereby allowing for correction in a timely fashion. The paper also raises some awkward philosophical issues which the profession will have to address in order to permit confident dam safety decision-making on the basis of risk analyses. Not the least of these is the following issue – “If preliminary estimates of risk are reasonably good, then there should be little need for more detailed risk analysis for confident and defensible decisions concerning making or not making dam safety improvements”.
Steve Everitt, Ron Fleming, Lelio Mejia
The Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Ltd (ECNZ) is strengthening its Matahina Dam which is an 80 m high, 400 m long rockfill dam impounding a 60 million cubic metre reservoir. The strengthening is to ensure the dam will withstand potential fault displacement within the dam foundation.
ECNZ’s management of the project is described from the design and consents phase through to construction. Key issues are discussed which have contributed to the success of the project such as management structure, the International Review Board, the design process and risk management.
M O’Reilly, S A L Read and P F Foster
Electronic (bubble) tiltmeters provide an up-to-date technique for continuously monitoring the deformations of dam and dam-related structures. Tiltmeters, with a sensitivity of (10Imm per length), are currently used in New Zealand at the high concrete gravity Waitaki Dam, and the Ohau A Powerhouse, as well as a short-term installation in the high concrete gravity Aviemore Dam.
This paper outlines the performance of the tiltmeters over a period of up to 7 years. They have been used to monitor the reactions of structures to loading changes such as headwater level variation, and to monitor ongoing performance, including the definition of annual thermal cycles. The results are compared with other monitoring techniques (e.g. plumblines, conventional surveying) to illustrate the usefulness and applicability of tiltmeters to dam safety programmes, either in conjunction with standard monitoring options, or in particular where such options may not be practicable.
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.
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.