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.
The disused Stapylton quarry is located in the suburbs of the Queensland Gold Coast. Gold Coast City Council, as part of the Northern Wastewater Strategy, has included the use of the quarry for storage and re-distribution of reclaimed water from the Beenleigh Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) to the downstream cane farmlands. A comprehensive EIS has been produced, which has strict water quality requirements for the quarry environs as well as the reservoir and outflow. This paper presents the background to the Northern Wastewater Strategy, the requirements for the Stapylton reservoir and the analysis performed for the detailed design of the embankment dam and the inlet bubble plume destratification system. The modelling of the destratification system was undertaken using the programme DYnamic REservoir Simulation Model (DYRESM) coupled with Computational Aquatic Ecosystems DYnamics Model (CAEDYM). The outcomes and implications of the modelling for the design and system operation including environmental monitoring are discussed.
This paper presents the findings of experimental investigation of internal erosion by the process of suffusion within embankment dams and their foundations.
Suffusion is the process by which finer soil particles are moved through constrictions between larger soil particles by seepage forces. Soils susceptible to suffusion are usually described as internally unstable. Understanding of the suffusion process is important to the assessment of the risk of internal erosion in an embankment dam and its foundation. Suffusion results in a coarser soil structure, leading to increased seepage, progressive deterioration of the dam or its foundation, and a higher risk of toe instability. Suffusion within the protective filter of a dam may result in a coarser filter, rendering it ineffective in protecting the core materials from erosion.
Two types of suffusion tests, namely the downflow test and the upflow test, have been conducted at the University of New South Wales. The downflow test aims at identifying the types of soils that are susceptible to suffusion, whereas the upflow test aims at identifying the hydraulic gradient at which suffusion is initiated. This paper presents the initial findings of the downflow test. Eighteen downflow tests have been carried out on fourteen clay-silt-sand-gravel soils. The Kenney and Lau (1985, 86) method, which is commonly used for assessing the internal stability of coarse-grained soils, appears to be too conservative when used to predict the internal stability of silt-sand-gravel or clay-silt-sand- gravel soils, whereas the Burenkova (1993) method appears to provide better predictions. Further testing is required to define more accurate criteria for determining the internal stability of broadly-graded clay-silt-sand-gravel soils.
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.