This paper relates to the conference sub-themes of Dam Safety Upgrades – Management of
Risk and Due Diligence and Dam Construction.
Specifically, it relates to the changing willingness of governments to fund risk reduction in
dams compared with risk reduction in other areas.
The cost of dam safety upgrades is just one of a portfolio of risk reduction strategies
affecting the general community that governments are required to underwrite.
This paper examines the variation in acceptable risk standards between dam safety and
other areas. This may be explained in terms of what is acceptable to the community and the
courts. For instance, a corporation is likely to attempt to minimise its liability (which may
differ to minimising risk for the community). We also examine:
• a portfolio approach to safety expenditure and the implicit cost-benefit relationship;
• the impact of the asymmetric relationship between expenditure and absolute size of
potential loss; and
• the importance of a whole-of-government approach and reviewing apparent
inconsistencies in approach to risk.
There is an increasingly well-established literature on the value of a human life and
increasingly systematic approaches to the evaluation of risk and the setting of risk
standards. Risk standards are particularly explicit in the area of dam safety – they set limits
of tolerable risks for large-scale loss of life (eg. for existing dams, a loss of life of more than
10 persons with a probability of more than one in a ten thousand per annum is regarded as
unacceptable under the Australian guidelines).
However, there are significant contrasts in what is tolerated as acceptable risk between
different areas of government activity. To date, there appears to be no systematic evaluation
of the portfolio of risks or a common view on what is acceptable levels.
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SunWater has completed a portfolio risk assessment (PRA) on its 25 major dams and has identified a number of dams that do not currently satisfy the ANCOLD fallback position on spillway capacity. It has taken an initiative to target these dams for spillway upgrades to ultimately achieve the ANCOLD fallback standard and has prioritised these upgrades in a preliminary program for action in the short to medium term.
As background to this PRA, SunWater has developed and implemented a dam safety program which has successfully updated all necessary flood hydrology and dam break analyses and reassessed the consequences and hazards associated with dam failures. It has also completed within the last eight years, dam safety reviews on all its dams in preparation for a comprehensive risk assessment process which is now well in-hand. This process will identify and evaluate all other risks, in addition to floods, that should be addressed or at least considered in the planning and design of these spillway capacity upgrades.
This paper describes SunWater’s experience and approach to PRA and discusses the controlling factors considered in prioritisation. It shows the results and trends of a number of risk ranking methods, provides details of the current level of societal risks in respect of the ANCOLD tolerability limits and outlines SunWater’s current strategy for the timing and staging of spillway upgrades to achieve compliance and an optimum level of risk reduction.
A risk assessment was performed for the Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to explore the justification for imposing an operating restriction on Lake Success to reduce the
probability and consequences of an Earthquake-induced dam failure. The potential for both a sudden overtopping failure and a delayed “seepage erosion through cracks” failure were considered.
The risk assessment focused on the seismic performance of the dam, the potential life loss and
economic consequences of Earthquake-induced dam failure, and the estimated residual risk and
degree of risk-based justification for the Existing operating regime, a range of Potential Operating
Restrictions, and an Indicative Improved Warning and Evacuation System. Risk assessment inputs
were supported by seismic deformation analyses under various Earthquake loadings and pool
elevations, dam break-inundation modelling, and reservoir simulation.
Evaluations against tolerable risk guidelines from the USBR, ANCOLD, and the UK HSE, together
with insights into the relationship between pool elevation and dam failure risk, provided important
inputs for the decision to implement an operating restriction.
N. Vitharana and S. Terzaghi
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.
Barton Maher, Richard Rodd
Changes to the estimation of extreme rainfall events resulted in significant increases in the estimates of the PMF since the original design of Wivenhoe Dam. To upgrade the dam to meet these new requirements, SEQWater (owner and operator) formed an Alliance with Leighton Contractors, Coffey Geosciences, MWH and the NSW Department of Commerce.
The option selected for the upgrade works included the construction of a new secondary spillway, upgrade of the existing gravity section, radial-gated spillway, and strengthening of the dam crest.
Value management was key throughout the project ensuring the Alliance was continually looking to
improve practices, increase cost-effectiveness and create innovative solutions for design elements of the project.
On numerous occasions when the design was challenged, the Alliance made ‘best for project’ decisions to carry out additional investigations or design work to pursue alternatives. As an example, the powerful tool of Computational Fluid Dynamics was used in the analysis and design of flow deflector plates on the existing spillway, which were an alternative to the originally designed gate locking pins. The investigation and development of this alternative resulted in significant cost savings and a more effective design solution.
This paper presents aspects of the design carried out by the Wivenhoe Alliance, lessons learned, and the way continual investigations during construction provided value for money solutions.
Martin Pinkham, Robin Dawson, John Grimston
Resource consents for Christchurch’s existing solid waste disposal facility at Burwood expire in May 2005 and the landfill must close. A new, state-of-the-art regional landfill is under construction at Kate Valley, which will accept solid waste from Christchurch and surrounding districts. Investigations and studies for the landfill have attracted considerable public attention, engaging public groups in discussions through resource consent hearings in 2002 and 2003.
The proposed landfill includes two embankment dams in a cascade arrangement below the landfill. The first is a 19m high sedimentation dam designed to retain silt runoff from the earthworks associated with landfill construction and operation, protecting the health of the stream and environment below the dam. The second is a 9m high dam performing dual roles of storing and supplying water for the landfill earthworks activities, and providing an additional safety buffer for silt control and containment of any accidental release of leachate at the landfill.
While the dams are relatively modest in size, they are being built to very high standards with strict peer review as a result of their association with the landfill project, and to minimise any community and environmental impacts. The design and construction of the landfill and dams is being completed using an innovative modified alliancing arrangement which provides the close working relationship that alliances are renowned for, while minimising up-front financial risk to the owner.
This paper deals with key aspects related to the landfill dams, such as community consultation and expectations, environmental impacts as well as the technical features. Construction is underway for the dams and the landfill at the time of writing of this paper.