2001 – Are Your Gates Up to Scratch or Down the Creek?

M.B.Barker and B.A. Vivian

Tumut Pond and Island Bend Dams are owned and operated by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority. These dams, which are gated, have recently had significant electrical supply and control system upgrades. Subsequent reliability analyses performed for the gates provided unexpected results which highlighted issues concerning common mode failures and common cause failures associated with the mechanical systems. A further unexpected outcome of the analyses was the minor affect of human error and response to the emergency operating conditions of the gates in the event of electrical supply failure due to the over-riding mechanical system failures. This outcome was of benefit to the owners who had some concern that centralization of operation and consequent reduction in operating personnel would have an adverse effect on the reliability of the gates. The operation of the automatic control system is an ongoing issue for Island Bend where hunting of the gate operation is yet to be resolved. The preparation of the fault trees, development of failure probabilities and outcomes of the analyses are discussed in the paper which highlights some of the difficulties in design and operation of spillway gates, particularly where human response time is limited and automatic control is essential.

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