Alan K Parkin
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.
Many dam structures in Australia were designed and built in the 1950s and 60s with limited hydrological information. As a result existing spillway structures are under-sized for today’s revised probable maximum floods (PMF). Potential problems such as the generation of excessive negative pressure over spillway crest under increased flood condition could be encountered. This may cause instability or cavitation damage to the spillway. The raised flow profile may also have adverse impacts on crest bridges and gate structures.
Historically, physical models have been constructed in hydraulic laboratories to study these behaviours, but they are expensive, time-consuming and there are many difficulties associated with scaling effects. Today, with the use of high-performance computers and more efficient computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes, the behaviour of hydraulic structures can be investigated numerically in reasonable time and expense.
This paper describes the two- and three-dimensional CFD modelling of spillway behaviour under rising flood levels. The results have been validated against published data and good agreement was obtained. The technique has been applied to investigate several spillway structures in Australia.
M G Webby
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.
K. Chandler, D. Gill, B. Maher, S. Macnish and G. Roads
SEQWater is the major supplier of untreated water in bulk to Local Governments and industry in the South East Queensland region of Australia, through ownership of Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine Dams. Wivenhoe Dam (Lake Wivenhoe) is located on the Brisbane River in Esk Shire. The storage provides both flood mitigation and water supply storage to Brisbane and Ipswich. The water supply storage capacity at full supply level is 1,160 GL. An additional 1,450 GL of storage above full supply level is used for flood mitigation.
Changes to the estimation of extreme rainfall events has resulted in significant increases in the estimates of the PMF since the original design of Wivenhoe Dam. To upgrade the flood security of Wivenhoe Dam, SEQWater has formed an alliance with Leighton Contractors, Coffey Geosciences, MWH and the NSW Department of Commerce.
This paper details the alliance delivery method, the latest estimates of the PMF based on the GTSMR method and details of the two preferred options being finalised by the Alliance.
Yarrawonga Weir was constructed in the 1930’s and is located on the Victoria / New South Wales border, between the towns of Yarrawonga and Mulwala. Dam safety investigations revealed that the main embankment was founded on a very loose layer of sand that would be vulnerable to liquefaction even under the operating basis earthquake
This paper details the statutory approvals and community consultation processes that were employed and the benefits that they provided to the $13 million remedial works project.
Local communities can assist, be neutral or obstruct a project. By engaging the community in a positive manner it is possible to deliver excellent results without increasing costs.
Cairn Curran Dam is a 44m high zoned earthfill embankment located near Bendigo in central
Victoria. The dam is owned and operated by Goulburn-Murray Water.
A risk assessment had identified that the junction between the embankment and spillway wall was a weakness in regard to the potential for piping. Initial geotechnical investigations indicated a softened zone adjacent to the foundation.
The conceptual upgrade design was to excavate the downstream slope and place filter material and a rockfill weighting berm. A 2-D slope stability analysis gave unacceptably low factors of safety for this excavation. The three dimensional nature of the embankment/spillway interface and excavation geometry was identified as an important factor in the upgrade design.
A detailed geotechnical assessment was undertaken and a geotechnical model developed that
accounted for potential softened zones adjacent to the spillway wall, along the foundation, and within the embankment.
A 3-D limit equilibrium slope stability program was utilised to analyse the 3-D factors of safety. The
program employed an extension of Bishop’s method of slices to a 3-D ‘method of columns’. A 3-D
finite element analysis was also undertaken to estimate likely deformations of the embankment and cut slope during construction.
The development of the geotechnical model and subsequent analysis allowed the upgrade works to be undertaken with confidence.