2000 – Spillway Gate Reliability

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Glen Hobbs and Danny Azavedo

Recent years have seen a growing awareness and understanding of the factors that contribute to the reliability of spillway gates and the incorporation of reliability data into overall dam risk studies.
The study of a number of spillway gate failures shows that no one component or incident leads to gate failure, but rather a combination of factors have resulted in gate failure. A rigorous reliability assessment should consider all factors, not only the equipment condition and performance but the complete system, from the receipt of data through to the actuation of the gates. It should take into account issues such as human factors, poor design, maintenance history and policy. Unfortunately one of the main hindrances to quantifying gate reliability is the lack of information on spillway gate equipment and system performance and failures.

This paper considers a number of gate failures, then looks at some of the tools of reliability assessment and the role of human factors in gate reliability.

The paper then discusses a recent study of four gated dams. For this study a systems approach was adopted and human factors were considered. The results compare favourably with other similar critical structures, and show that for these well designed and maintained structures human factors are the limiting criteria in multiple gate operations. The study also shows that the probability of opening all the spillway gates at a dam improves with time (2-4 hours) during the flood operation, and it is considered that time based reliability provides a more meaningful and useful assessment of overall spillway gate reliability.


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