2000 – Embankment Dam Rehabilitation with Granular Filters

Mark Locke, Buddhima Indraratna, Phillip Cummins and Gamini Adikari

ABSTRACT: Australia has a large number of older embankment dams, which have been in service and performed adequately for over 50 years. However, current industry practice in embankment dam design predicts that the granular filters within these dams may not be adequate. This may require refurbishment of the dam by retro-fitting a new filter to ensure the continued safety of the structure. This paper outlines the potential problems with older embankment dam designs, and the reasons for constructing a new filter. Potential problems may include inadequate or non-existent filters, risk of failure due to earthquake, piping, or excessive foundation seepage. Design methods for granular filters are described briefly, concentrating on whether an existing filter is adequate, and the potential improvement by constructing a new filter. Construction issues for placing filters on existing dams are also discussed.

A new analytical method, developed to describe the time dependent erosion and filtration within embankment dams, is described briefly. The model predicts particle erosion, transport and retention based on fundamental fluid mechanics and geotechnical concepts. The application of this model to the design of filters for new and existing dams will be described. The predictions of such analytical modelling can give a designer a significantly clearer picture of the purpose of a granular filter, the extent of core erosion that can be expected, and the effect of retrofitting a new filter to an existing dam.

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