Jenny Stewart, Murray Gillon
This paper describes decommissioning studies carried out as part of a dam safety improvement project by Coliban Water. The project results from a Portfolio Risk Assessment of 20 referable dams and the selection of 10 dams for safety improvements. Due to future water supply commitments and possible alternative supplies, eight of the reservoirs were subject to a decommissioning analysis as part of the dam safety options studied. The decommissioning studies included alternative uses, flora and fauna and other environmental issues, and European and aboriginal heritage studies.
As a result of the studies, five of the reservoirs will no longer be required for water supply. Two will be upgraded and handed over to others to manage as recreation sites and one will be decommissioned. Two are still being considered for either decommissioning or hand-over to others at a reduced capacity for habitat and heritage benefits.
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For many years, engineers associated with the design, construction and operation of large dams have been undertaking environmental effects studies in association with their projects in the belief that they were thereby satisfying their obligation to the community whose interests they served. With increasing environmental consciousness of the community in developed countries, methods have been developed one by one for assessing environmental impacts of various kinds, and techniques have been developed for abating them.
However, the issue in November of the report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) has focussed attention not only on the importance of bigger issues such as regional ecology, national economic disbenefits and social dislocation, but also on the vulnerability of dams to social and political hindsight.
This paper develops the above background, and shows why some excellently conceived techniques developed in the early 1970’s were capable of identifying almost all imaginable environmental impacts of dam projects, but were not applied in such a way as to deal adequately with the larger issues. It is argued that tools for dealing with all known issues now exist, but that responsible and competent application of the tools are not equivalent to successful application of them. d A new approach is suggested both to upgrade the quality of the decision and to make successful adoption of a soundly based decision more likely to withstand long term critical appraisal, by expressly recognising these decisions as ethical ones.
The regulatory environment for dams in Queensland will change when the new provisions of the Water Act 2000 are proclaimed in late 2001 or early 2002. The definition of a ‘referable dam’ has shifted from a simple height and storage criteria to one that requires a population at risk (PAR) before dams are considered referable. Additionally hazardous waste dams such as tailings dams will no longer be considered as referable dams and under the Act regulatory control will be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Referable water dams will be assigned a Failure Impact Category of 2 if they have a PAR greater than 100 and a Category of I if they have a PAR greater than or equal to 2 and less than 100. This has required the development of guidelines for the assessment of ‘population at risk’. These guidelines have been written to suit a wide variety of dam impact situations and a range of dam owner resources. The guidelines require certification of the failure impact assessment by a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Queensland.
The Queensland Dam Safety Management Guidelines have also been re-written to make them more amenable for reference in dam safety conditions.
New dams will require development permits to be issued under the Integrated Planning Act and will have development permit conditions applied in accordance with their Failure Impact Category. There is a range of transitional provisions for existing dams.
This paper covers all of the above issues as well as providing an indication as to how these statutory guidelines relate to the various ANCOLD guidelines.
Bill Hakin, Phillip Solomon, Geoff Hughes, Peter Siers
Lyell Dam is located on the Coxs River near Lithgow NSW Australia. It was constructed in 1982 to supply cooling water to Delta Electricity’s Mt. Piper and Wallerawang power stations.
In 1994 the storage capacity of the dam was increased by 7,500 MI by raising the embankment height and installing two 3.5m high inflatable rubber dams on an enlarged and slightly raised spillway sill.
Two significant failures of the rubber dams in 1997 and 1999, led the dam owner, Delta Electricity, to seek a more reliable way of maintaining the increased FSL whilst still providing spillway capacity for the design flood.
Following a detailed review of options, Delta Electricity chose to reinstate the storage capacity with the Hydroplus Fusegate System. The Hydroplus System consists of a series of fusible units that progressively tip off the spillway as flood magnitude increases, thereby forming a controlled breach in the spillway and providing for passage of the design flood. At Lyell Dam it has been designed such that no units tip until the 20 000 AEP flood. The System is designed to act as a normal free overflow spillway up until extreme events when it is required to commence operation. Key factors in the selection process were safety, reliability and operation/maintenance.
This is the first installation of the Hydroplus Fusegate System in Australia or New Zealand. There are currently 35 installations throughout the world. The System has wide application with dam owners either seeking to store additional water and/or to increase the capacity of their existing spillways for safety reasons in an economical and efficient manner.
This paper examines the decision and selection process adopted by Delta Electricity. It also presents a case study for the design and construction stages of this unique solution for Lyell Dam.
R.A. Vreugdenhil, G. Gibson, M.R. Jorgensen, A. Brown and P.G. Somerville
For the first time for any region of Australia, a modern site specific seismic hazard assessment has been completed for six major dams, incorporating fault mapping and trenching to assess fault source characterisation and likely slip rates. A combination of modern ground motion attenuation relations appropriate for stable continental regions was used. The work was performed in a probabilistic context, and includes significant advances in Australia for all aspects of seismic hazard evaluation. The study found that for a short recurrence interval, a large earthquake distant from the site may have a greater probability of contributing to a low PGA, than a low magnitude event closer to the site. At longer recurrence intervals, the magnitudes that contribute most to the hazard have dropped significantly below the previous levels of magnitude for several storages. The outcome of this work is an understanding of the likely strength and duration of ground shaking at each of the six dam sites for any design earthquake, and an understanding of the contribution of each source zone to the seismic hazard. Ground motion parameters produced by the study have been used as a reasonable basis for subsequent seismic analysis of embankments, towers and spillway structures.
G. A. Pickens, J. O. Grimston
The Opuha Dam Project is a multipurpose water resources development, for irrigation and other uses. The 50 m high irrigation dam incorporates a 7.3 MW hydro installation, enhances summer low flows downstream, increases potable water supply security, is a significant recreational facility and provides flood attenuation. Opuha Dam was the first large dam permitted under NZ’ s Resource Management Act, for which sustainability is the cornerstone. It was also built under a design-build contract arrangement. Although breached by a flood during construction, the dam was successfully completed and performance has met or exceeded expectations. Experiences of potential value to future developments are outlined including the positive features of design- build. Technical features which contributed to the cost-effectiveness and performance of the project, are described, including downstream reregulation to enable “on-off’ peak hydro operation, Obermeyer type spillway gates to maximise flow capture for hydro and a stepped service spillway.