There is a widespread perception among dam engineers that tree root invasion occasions a very serious threat to embankment dams by virtue of its potential to initiate piping failure, with appropriate action invariably recommended. Remedial works can, on occasions, be extensive.
While the principle is ostensibly plausible and scarcely challenged, there has never been, to the Author’s knowledge, a satisfactory investigation to establish any credible scientific basis for it. One case that has attracted some attention in literature (by virtue of the extent of the investigation undertaken), viz a piping accident at Yan Yean Dam, is critically reviewed to show that the accepted view on the role of tree roots in this incident is less than satisfactory. In the course of this review, two physical Laws of Piping are proposed, and applied both to this case and to another nearby Melbourne Water dam that also has a history of piping.
Whilst the consequences of piping in a major dam are such that risk from this source must be kept to a very low level, it is concluded here that piping risk arising from tree root invasion has been considerably overstated and that a more balanced assessment is necessary before determining what, if any, action is required.
Hydro Tasmania has recently developed a Dam Safety Emergency Plan, which covers 54 referable dams throughout Tasmania. A major contribution was the development of the Pieman River flood warning system. The flood warning system is a computer-based model that forecasts the hydrological situation of the catchment up to 48 hours into the future and alarms the appropriate personnel when a flood event is imminent. The Pieman River catchment experiences some of the highest average annual rainfalls in Tasmania and contains dams in the High Hazard category. The flood warning system was developed using Hydstra Modelling™ (formerly TimeStudio), which links directly to the Hydstra TSM™ database. This package offers powerful automation tools that enable the Pieman River flood warning system to operate, alert personnel and display results on Hydro Tasmania’s internal website with no manual involvement. With its maintenance free operation and user-friendly interfaces, the Pieman River flood warning system is an effective contribution towards the overall risk management package of the Pieman River Power Development
Bellfield dam is a 78,500 ML drought reserve storage for the Wimmera-Mallee Stock and Domestic System. The 800m long by 57m high zoned earth and rockfill dam is located on Fyans Creek upstream of the Grampians tourist town of Halls Gap in north western Victoria. The dam was built in the period 1963-67. Later in 2002-03 as part of a flood security upgrading (FSU) program, had its rock chute spillway deepened by 3.4m and its embankment crest raised by 1.9m to withstand a PMF.
To manage the FSU’s likely construction constraints and risks, Wimmera Mallee Water’s Headworks Group successfully undertook the upgrading by a mix of schedule of rates contracts and direct management.
This paper complements a companion paper by WMW’s design consultants, URS and describes why and how direct management was used, plus unconventional aspects of spillway deepening and the raising of a narrow dam crest with earthworks and a pre-cast parapet wall.
Keywords: Drill and blast, pre-cast parapet wall, narrow embankment crest, direct management, construction.
A survey of spillway gate systems and operations has recently been completed by dam organisations in Nth America, Australia and New Zealand. The survey sought to identify typical arrangements for spillway gate systems and common features pertaining to reliability such as system redundancy, actuation methods and back-up systems, gate and hoist types, remote and local operation, gate testing programmes, and human factors.
Sixteen organizations responded, covering sixty two dams and nearly four hundred gates. This Paper reports on the preliminary analysis of the data, providing an overview of the industries’ approach to spillway gate operation and control.
Churchman Brook Dam is a 26m high earthfill dam with a puddle clay core and impounds a reservoir of 2.2GL. Various remedial works have been undertaken since completion of construction in 1928. In September 2000, a sinkhole in the right abutment was observed during a routine dam inspection. Following this incident, detailed site investigations were carried out. These investigations revealed that there are soft zones and possibly voids formed in the upper part of the clay core.
A comprehensive dam safety study and a risk workshop undertaken in 2002/2003 showed the dam to be deficient in aspects associated with piping, spillway adequacy and outlet works condition. A rational geotechnical model was developed for the foundation utilising triaxial test data from 1980s and recent investigations. The existing spillway chute will be upgraded with a concrete liner attached to the existing chute incorporating no-fine concrete as a free-draining medium. This paper presents the various aspects of the remedial works currently being designed.
Investigations of damaging blowback incidents at the headrace tunnel intake to Rangipo Power Station in the Central North Island of New Zealand are described. The blowback phenomenon is explained theoretically based on evaluation of the evidence available from the incidents and information obtained from the literature. A physical hydraulic model study is described in which this explanation of the blowback phenomenon was verified. The model was also used to devise a solution for the blowback problem.