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.
Robert Virtue, Deryk Forster, Jon Williams and Sabina Fahrner
Basic pre-construction foundation investigations for the Ross River Dam were done in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s but a more detailed hydrogeological assessment was carried out to investigate and manage water logging and salinity, which developed immediately downstream in the late 1970s.
As part of the 2005 Stage 2 to 5 upgrade design, detailed conceptual and numerical hydrogeological modelling was required to predict aquifer response along the embankment and downstream. This required “data mining” and additional drilling and aquifer testing to fill in data gaps, with the filtered and re-interpreted data used to build a 3D conceptual model of the embankment and underlying geology, by a design team comprising specialist hydrogeologists, geologists, geotechnical and damsengineers. This was converted to a 10-layer, 2-million cell numerical model, to enable high-resolution modelling of groundwater behaviour for a range of aquifer properties, flood hydrographs and seepage management options. As well as a design tool, the model is a valuable monitoring tool in confirming the performance of seepage management systems and to provide early warning of seepage management failures.
The study emphasised the need to capture data for a wide range in aquifer stress, to have simple preliminary spreadsheet models to provide a “sanity check” and to collect data away from the embankment to allow a 3D interpretation of the geology, to the assumption of “layer cake” models.
Allan Crichton, Jon Williams, Anthony Ford
Wivenhoe Dam was constructed in the early 1980’s and is the largest source of water to the southeast Queensland region. The dam also provides significant flood mitigation benefits to the large communities in the Brisbane valley including the cities of Ipswich and Brisbane. Changes in the methods of determining the probable maximum flood, which is the design flood for the dam, have meant that the dam was not capable of passing the significantly larger design flood event. The feasibility study undertaken to assess the most appropriate method of upgrading the flood passing capacity identified more than 240 options. These options were short-listed and the capital cost and consequences costs determined for each of the short listed options.
This paper describes the process used to identify the options to upgrade the flood passing capacity and the method used to assess the consequences costs, which are primarily the costs of flood damage resulting from each of the options. The consequences costs for each option are the costs associated with changing the flow conditions in the river downstream of the dam. For example the option to upgrade the dam to pass the design flood is a benefit to the community however if this benefit is achieved by installing large gates or a fuse plug that operates frequently the scheme may increase the costs to the community.
The preferred option initiates at the lowest probability of occurrence of all those analysed — average return period of 10,000 years. There will be opportunities during the Environmental Impact Assessment process to test acceptability of this initiation level — a more frequent occurrence would be a lower capital cost solution. The EIA process may require a solution with a higher initiating level. Informal talks with the regulator have indicated a preference for the less frequent initiation level.
Malcolm Barker, Toby Loxton
The Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB) owns and operates Awoonga Dam, which is a concrete-faced rock fill embankment with a fixed crest concrete spillway on the left bank impounding a storage volume of 770,000 ML.
The current arrangement can accommodate the Probable Maximum Flood, allowing for flow over Saddles 3, 4 and 6 on the left abutment. A comprehensive study was carried out to evaluate the erosion potential downstream from Saddles 3 and 6 as well as other spillway options adjacent to the existing dam. One option was a radical approach including the removal of the Saddle Dam 3 and provision of downstream erosion protection works. This reduced the PAR and improved the overall dam flood capacity; however concerns were expressed about the environmental impact of possible erosion downstream from Saddle 3 for relatively frequent events.
A risk assessment showed that the erosion protection works downstream from the Saddle 3 or 6 were not cost effective and the preferred option for the upgrade was the closure of the Saddle Dam 3 with an auxiliary spillway created in Saddle 6,
This paper summarises the methods used and the outcomes from this study.
2011 – Awoonga Dam Acceptable Flood Capacity design – the anguish of erosion risk and implications for design
Rob Ayre, Simone Gillespie, Peter Richardson, Mark Harvey
In November 2007, NQWater (now Townsville City Council) completed the upgrade of Ross River Dam near Townsville. This upgrade included the installation of a Program Logic Control (PLC) operated radial gate structure in the existing spillway. The purpose of the upgrade was threefold; to meet current design standards regarding dam safety and flood capacity; increase the town water supply to Townsville and Thuringowa; and to maintain the flood mitigation benefit of the dam during flood events in the Ross River catchment.
The designers of the dam upgrade completed a risk assessment at the commencement of the design phase and concluded that a PLC operated gated dam posed less risk than an approach that relied purely on dam operators. This is seen as the “new way forward” in gate operated dams by many designers. The regulator of dam safety in Queensland has indicated a preference for an operator to remain on site full time whilst the PLC system is ‘proved’. As a consequence a flood operations team was engaged to monitor the dam during times of flood through the commissioning period of the upgrade.
This paper discusses the lessons learnt from the experiences of the Ross River Dam during its first few flood events and issues associated with the adopted design approach.
Keywords: Dam Safety, Gated Spillway, Flood Operations, Ross River Dam, NQWater, Townsville City Council, SunWater, Queensland.