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 forfoundation deficiencies in 1982, and further assessed in 20002002 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.
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Peter D Amos, Pip Nicolson, M Grant Webby, Murray D Gillon
To obtain a resource consent to build and operate any new water resource or hydro-electric development in New Zealand, the developer is required by the Resource Management Act (RMA) to consult with the community over the effects that the development could have, including describing how public safety risks will be avoided, remedied or mitigated. The community has the opportunity to respond to the authorities issuing the resource consent and influence the conditions attached to the consent.
The proposed Project Aqua Scheme in the South Island, New Zealand, comprised a 60 km long canal system to convey 340 cumecs flow from the Waitaki River across alluvial river terraces and through a chain of six hydro-power stations before returning the water back to the river. Each section of canal between stations would have contained between 4 and 6 million m3 of water within embankments up to 20m high. A breach of any one of these canals had the potential to flood farmland, residential buildings, highways, and other infrastructure, thereby posing a safety risk to local residents together with the potential for significant economic loss.
The paper describes the methodologies that were developed and used to assess the impacts, the measures proposed to avoid, remedy or mitigate safety risks and the public reaction to the associated report that was provided for public consultation prior to abandonment of the project. The methodologies used required adaptation of dam safety and consequence assessment practices usually applied to in-river dams, and applied here to the 60 km long length of canal embankment.
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.
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.
Stuart Macnish, Natarsha Woods, Michael Dixon
What happens when the people that undertake early environmental investigation stay on as part of the delivery team throughout the design and construction phases of a major project such as the Wivenhoe Alliance?
Often, the early investigation for projects, particularly in the case of environmental impact assessments and approvals processes, is carried out independently of the construction team. In the case of the Wivenhoe Alliance, these issues were set out in the scope of the project itself and delivered by the same team during construction.
The benefits and outcomes have been impressive not only for the project, but for SEQWater and the local community into the future. Improved biodiversity values, increased water quality protection, safety improvements, and value for money are only some of the key benefits experienced.
Individuals within the team also benefit. Environmental professionals are able to implement their
knowledge ‘on-ground’ and progressively improve practices in an area of constant change due to
construction initiatives and timeframes.
This paper explores the specific areas in which the involvement of environmental professionals throughout early investigation and planning, design and construction have benefited the Wivenhoe Alliance and the outcomes that have resulted from this innovative approach.
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.