Jon Williams and Chi Fai Wan
The Ross River Dam was first commissioned in 1974 and raised in 1976. The 8200 m long embankment was not fitted with chimney filters and has suffered extensive desiccation cracking since it was raised. A significant component of the dam upgrade is the retrofitting of filter zones to ensure the embankment meets current dam safety guidelines.This paper describes the process of investigation of the existing desiccation cracks and the use of Hole Erosion Tests (HET) and No Erosion Filter (NEF) tests to validate the design of the retrofitted filter.
A significant challenge in the design is to provide a cost effective solution given the 7500 m length of embankment requiring treatment. Assessment of flow rates within cracks and expected piping erosion along the cracks was used to assess the required drainage capacity. This assessment of expected flow capacity allowed the deletion of the coarse filter inthe design reducing the filter requirement from a triple filter to a single fine filter. Results of this assessment were incorporated into the Risk Assessment based design validation process
Malcolm Barker, Jon Williams and Chi Fai Wan
The Ross River Dam, designed in the early seventies, does not meet current dam safety criteria for overtopping and piping within the embankment or the foundation. The dam comprises a 40m long concrete overflow spillway flanked by a central core rockfill embankment of 130 m on the right bank and 170m on the left bank with a 7620 m long left bank earth fill embankment, which has no internal filter zones for piping protection. The embankment was extensively assessed and treated for foundation deficiencies in 1982, and further assessed in 2000-2002 for appropriate upgrade options.
This paper describes the process of validation of the detailed design using Risk Based Design Criteria.This process included data mining for historical performance and original design intention,comparison of the original design against current and historical investigations and assessment of the upgrades using the large volume of data available from previous work. A design team comprising specialist hydrologists, hydrogeologists, geologists, geotechnical and dams engineers worked within a risk assessment framework at all stages of the design to ensure the design was validated using the design Validation Model. This process incorporated assessment of crest level based on flood risk and wave overtopping, review of 2D and 3D seepage models to assess piping and foundation erosion potential, assessment of fissured soils within the embankment foundation for structural stability and evaluation of spillway model testing for potential spillway failure modes.
Sonny Connors, Shaun Nugent, Brett Taylor, Brian Walford
The Tarong coal-fired power station near Kingaroy in southern Queensland discharges ash to a storage facility of 42,000 ML capacity, impounded by a 48 m high-zoned earth and rockfill dam embankment. The embankment was constructed in 1980–81. In recent years, Tarong Energy Corporation (TEC) has investigated a number of options for a new storage facility as the remaining capacity of the existing ash dam storage diminishes. TEC determined that the existing facility should be upgraded to provide additional storage capacity for the short term. At the same time, there emerged a requirement to improve the long-term seismic resistance of the embankment. Enlarging the existing spillway cut provided the material for a 400,000 m3 weighting zone and, by reducing the design flood freeboard, extended the ash disposal capacity by several years without a need to raise the embankment. Challenges included significant foundation seepage and deteriorated riprap. The paper describes the issues, risks, adopted criteria, investigation undertaken, and implementation of the upgrading works. Innovative approaches to the provision of future storage capacity are outlined.
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.
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.
Howard and Opper
Dam safety planning is a team game. There are many players involved and there is a need for information to be shared and actions to be properly coordinated. The State Emergency Service is the legislated combat agency for flooding in New South Wales and is responsible for planning for and conducting the warning and evacuation of communities at risk from floods, including floods affected by dams. The successful execution of these responsibilities is dependent upon the continuing development of a strong, cooperative relationship between the dam owners and managers, dam regulators and emergency managers and the effective incorporation of community expectations in dam safety planning.
This paper explores some of the ways that this relationship can help to meet well accepted community expectations in respect of risk to life and property and outlines progress made in dam safety planning to date. The emergency response aspect of dam failure planning is still a relatively immature field in Australia, and it follows that there are lessons to be learned as we proceed. In that context, the paper also describes some of the difficulties the State Emergency Service has encountered in its role as the response planning agency and suggests some guiding principles to enhance future interactions between the key stakeholders.