Deryk Forster and Manoj Laxman
The Stage I construction of the Ross River Dam was completed in December 1973. The reservoir
reached full supply level (FSL) and then spilled in January 1974. In 1976, the left embankment was
raised to Stage II level. Spillway gates were installed in February 1978 with full supply level for
Stage 1A (FSL).
In the years following the first filling of the reservoir after the raising of FSL, salt scalding
downstream of the northern portion of the left embankment occurred. This was attributed to
foundation seepage. Investigations started in 1978 to define what remedial measures were required to ensure the safety of the left embankment. Fissured clays were first discovered in the foundations of the Ross River Dam during these investigations.
Fissures could substantially reduce the overall strength of the soil foundations. Therefore the effect of these fissures needs to be considered when evaluating the acceptable levels of reliability against
embankment failure. More extensive fissuring was discovered during the current investigations and a
cataloguing system was employed to characterise the foundation conditions.
A simplified layer model was adopted early on in the design but did not fully demonstrate the
complexity of the subsurface conditions. Extensive use was made of historical geological data,
current investigation data and the application of GIS systems. The resulting model more clearly
represents the foundation conditions and high degree of variability and was used in subsequent risk
assessments for the upgrade design.
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There is a large stock of embankment dams throughout the world needing the assessment of their
safety as required by modern dam safety regulations. Due mainly to economic and site constraints
associated with potential dam upgrading work, it is imperative that a rational approach be adopted in
assessing their safety and in designing the remedial works. One of the most important criteria is the
selection of appropriate geotechnical parameters under different conditions. Predominant loading
conditions in a dam are much different from those in other structures such as bridge and building
foundations and therefore the direct adoption of traditional approaches may not always be valid. This
paper presents the various aspects of issues associated with the stability assessment of dams including
the rational selection of the parameters and numerical codes available to dan/geotechnical engineers
to assess their safety.
This paper presents a number of innovative hydrologic investigations undertaken for the recent
detailed design of upgrades for Ross River Dam in North Queensland. A key issue for estimating
extreme floods in the tropics is the estimation of flood events of long critical durations. The
implication is that there is an increased focus on estimating the correct volume (not only the peak
flow). This paper describes the regional analysis of flow volumes that was used to validate the
estimated flood volumes.
Another issue of considerable importance is the assumed relationship between inflows and initial
reservoir level. The analyses described in this paper showed that inflows are independent of reservoir levels for the more frequent events but for more extreme events they are correlated. This has important implication on how the initial reservoir level is incorporated in the hydrologic analysis. The final aspect covered by the paper is the derivation of seasonal flood frequency curves. This is particularly important given the highly seasonal nature of rainfalls in the tropics and the results are important for assessing risks during construction and scheduling the upgrade works.
The Ross River Dam was constructed in 1974 following design by the State Government, including
hydraulic model testing, by SMEC. The maximum spillway discharge at that time was 1100 m3/s.
Latterly, the dam and spillway have come up for a comprehensive review given that the dam is in an extreme hazard category because of its location only a short distance upstream of the city of
Townsville. The revised hydrology has produced outflow hydrographs peaking at over 4 000 m3/s – more than three and a half times the original – to be passed through the 130 ft (39.62 m) wide
The paper describes the hydraulic modelling planned and carried out to determine changes needed to handle such high discharges. The modelling was to provide for the installation of radial gates and piers, and study of the water level, pressure and dissipation conditions in the dissipator for several key discharges through the range to PMF. Pressure measurements included transients, consideration of the potential for uplift of the basin floor slabs, the integrity of the walls to handle the differential loads, and, as a major consideration, the energy conditions in the flow exiting the dissipator and the integrity of the rock downstream to avoid erosion. Each of these aspects will be addressed in the paper both from the modelling and interpretation standpoint and from the civil structural analysis standpoint, together with a description of the strengthening works required to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
Construction of the Lake Buffalo Dam was completed in 1965. It was to be a temporary dam, required to operate for several years, then act as a cofferdam for the construction of a much larger dam downstream. This larger dam was never built and a risk assessment completed by Goulburn Murray Water (G-MW) in 2001 identified several dam safety deficiencies at Lake Buffalo were among the highest priorities for risk reduction measures across the G-MW dams portfolio. Specifically it identified Lake Buffalo as having inadequate flood capacity and there were also concerns about transverse cracking within the embankment.
This paper describes the detailed investigation and analysis of the embankment cracking including assessing the potential for piping through an embankment having deficient filters and known transverse cracking. The design features of the upgrade are also described including the design of the a filter buttress, a parapet wall raise, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling and spillway anchoring. Construction was completed in 2003.
David Ho, Karen Riddette, Michael Hogg, Jayanta Sinha and John Roberts
Blowering Dam was constructed in 1968 by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, on behalf of the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. It is a large earth and rockfill embankment dam, approximately 112m high and 808m long, with a concrete chute spillway at the right abutment. The reservoir holds about 1,628GL of water that is mainly for irrigation and supplying an 80MW hydro-electric power station. The dam is owned and operated by State Water Corporation, NSW.
Revisions to the design flood estimate have highlighted the dam requiring an upgrade to cope with increased discharge rates. The NSW Department of Commerce has carried out feasibility studies of different upgrade options. The need to evaluate the hydraulic performance of the existing un-gated spillway was identified. Flow overtopping the chute walls can potentially erode the backfill behind the walls, and, the rockfill on the downstream toe of the embankment. Consequently, this may lead to significant damage of the spillway and may risk the safety of the dam.
Hydraulic analysis of the spillway using a 3-D computational fluid dynamics model was performed for
various flood levels to determine the discharge coefficients and the discharge rating curve. It was also required to identify whether the chute walls need raising to contain the increased discharges. These results were compared with those calculated by other “standard” methods. Such verification provided a level of confidence in the analysis results which were then used in the studies to assess available upgrade options.
In order to have further confidence in the analysis, the computed results were validated against physical test data and some limited information from an actual discharge. Further verification against established theory was conducted by modelling a supercritical flow through a contraction in an open-channel in order to see if the computation could predict the shock wave effect that was observed in physical models as well as full scale channels. A reasonably good correlation was obtained from all validating tests.
This paper presents some background of the proposed dam upgrade, potential upgrade options considered and details of the hydraulic modelling of the spillway. Some interesting flow behaviour caused by the shock wave will be highlighted.