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.
Robert J. Parker
This paper examines the current trends in the construction of Roller Compacted Concrete Dams in Australia and Internationally. Certain recent trends to processes such as grout enriched vibratable RCC will assist both the cost effectiveness and simplicity of this type of dam construction. Key issues considered are: I. The trend is to use less conventional concrete in the structure and grout enriched RCC against contact surfaces are the means of achieving this. 2. Proportionally greater use is being made of high paste mixes 3. In order to maximise placing rates, keep it simple 4. Aggregates should be manufactured in not less than three sizes and preferably four if segregation is to be controlled
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.
The role of judgement in risk assessments as applied in dam safety management has been the source of considerable debate in recent years. With regard to risk analysis of dams, and while there is general agreement that judgement is an essential element of the process, essentially two schools of thought have emerged. One view holds that, in the assignment of probabilities, reliance can be based on collective engineering judgement that is anchored to a knowledge base. The second view holds that judgement should be based on the knowledge that is revealed by an appropriate amount of analysis. The paper, written from the perspective of the latter view, explores some of the underlying issues in this debate.
The role of judgement in risk evaluation, the process of judging the significance of risk, is considered to be equally important. However, the process of making value judgements and statements of principles is complex and often beyond the sphere of engineering. The third issue addressed in the paper concerns the search for answers to the question, “How good is the assessment?”
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.