Gary Hargraves, Russ McConnell and John Ruffini
The acceptance of the use of generalised methods for estimating extreme rainfall has resulted in a growth of the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) estimates that spillways of dams are required to pass. In many cases spillways were not designed with spare capacity and are incapable of safely passing the new PMF estimates. Dealing effectively with the potential for dams to cause damage and loss requires a risk management approach. Such an approach requires more reliable tools for estimation of rainfall. This paper examines the issues, the progress made, and outlines further work and options for clarifying risk.
The Bundaberg Irrigation Area (BIA) is served by a reticulation system of channels, pipelines, pump stations and balancing storages drawing water from a major dam (Fred Haigh on the Kolan River), augmented by a number of weirs and tidal barrages. The scheme as originally proposed in the late 1960’s included a major dam on the Burnett River that has never been built. Accordingly, the reliability of the system was lower than desired, a situation exacerbated by prolonged drought during the 1990’s.
In the 1980s, alternative (cheaper) sources of water supply were investigated and a weir site on the Burnett River (Walla) was selected as the most promising. In 1993, the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments agreed to the Sugar Industry Infrastructure Package (SHP). Walla Weir was included in the Package, subject to environmental and economic assessment.
Detailed impact assessment studies were carried out and submitted to both State and Commonwealth Environment departments. In the light of strong opposition from environmental groups (whose major concern was the Queensland Lungfish), the Federal Minister for the Environment commissioned an independent review of the IAS before granting approval.
Approval was conditional on the implementation of an Environmental Management Plan and a River Operation Plan as well as a commitment to undertake extensive baseline studies before any new development is proposed in the area. This paper will discuss the investigation and approval process and describe the additional monitoring/studies being carried out.
Jim Walker, Murray Gillon and John Grimston
Karapiro Dam is at the end of a cascade of hydropower dams on the Waikato River in New Zealand’s North Island. The 52m high, high hazard, arch dam retains the lake for a 96MW power station at its downstream toe. Safety reviews recommended a re-evaluation of the dam stability under seismic loading.
Dam owner, Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ), commissioned consultants Tonkin & Taylor Ltd to carry out a series of studies and investigations which provided better understanding of the dam’s safety status. Investigations located a previously unrecorded continuous low strength thrust fault underlying the left abutment. This provided the potential for movement of the left abutment gravity blocks under earthquake loading, with adverse effects on arch dam and reservoir safety. Investigations showed the abutment cut off walls to be lower than the PMF lake level. High groundwater levels and erodible pumiceous soils were found at the left abutment. These findings prompted ECNZ to implement stability enhancement works.
This paper describes the studies and investigations, peer review process, and design and construction of enhancement works.
A strategy designed to ensure that an existing dam continues to perform effectively will include:
This paper will explore each of these issues and how they may be applied to dams in a variety of situations. These situations include water supply reservoirs, flood retarding basins, levees and wastewater lagoons. While each situation is different, the underlying principles will remain consistent. The range of situations encountered by Victorian Water Authorities provides the inspiration for the development of an efficient approach to the management of the safety of dams.
Ungated spillways offer the safest form of spillway but they are more costly than gated spillways for the volume of water stored. Gated spillways offer a more cost-effective use of water by maximizing the storage capabilities of the dam. Gated spillways also lead to more cost effective new dams as well as increasing storage of existing dams. They can therefore offer considerable advantages but must not jeopardize dam safety. Most commonly used spillway gates are mechanically driven by electric or hydraulic systems reliant on external power supply and instrumentation, and usually require operators to control the systems. Unfortunately there is already a substantial record of these types of gates not operating when required, thereby placing the dam’s safety in jeopardy. The ideal is to have automatic gates which do not suffer the problems associated with mechanically-driven gates.
A number of automatic gates exist, some with differing degrees of success but most are not truly automatic in operation and suffer some limitations. A range of fully automatic water control equipment has been developed and has operated for more than 20 years in South Africa. Out of experience gained from this equipment, a new generation of spillway gates has been developed which meets nearly all the requirements of an ideal spillway gate.
This paper introduces the gates and examines their features and safety devices. Other benefits are also mentioned.
Robert E Saunders
The vast majority of dams in Australia are relatively small affairs. For example, approximately 90% of Queensland’ referable dams are less than 15 m in height. Most of these dams are owned by small communities, mining companies or farmers, many of which have smaller operations than those of Australia’s larger dam owners. In many cases the dam represents the owner’s sole source of water supply.
Many smaller dam owners are unaware of the key factors affecting the safety and best management of their facilities. Added to this is a general lack of understanding of dam related issues by the community at large. This often leads to significant owner and community concerns (and conflicts) that have the potential to jeopardise the viability, or worse, the safety of a project. The relative importance of the dam to the smaller dam owner often exacerbates these issues.
This paper serves to illustrate, by way of example, a consultant’s viewpoint of some of the issues encountered on small dam projects and suggests actions that the dams industry as whole could take to improve the situation.