Jeffrey A. Schaefer, Ph.D., P.E., P.G. and David M. Schaaf, P.E.
In 2005 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed and implemented a Screening Portfolio Risk Assessment (SPRA) process for Dam Safety. The screening process considered loading frequency, an engineering rating to estimate a relative probability of failure, and both human life and economic consequences of failure. The results were utilized as a tool to help prioritize funding for dam safety modification projects and required studies. Three multidisciplinary cadres evaluated what was considered the worst 10% of the USACE’s dam projects in 2005 and the next worst 10% in 2006. The dams evaluated included flood control, navigation, and multi-purpose dams. Approximately seventy facilities were evaluated each year.
As a result of the aging of the USACE’s dam portfolio and the state of the art at the time of design and construction (mostly 1940’s-50’s), significant dam safety deficiencies exist at many USACE dams. This paper summarizes the major deficiencies identified from the SPRA process. Examples, including foundation seepage, karst development, embankment stability, gate deterioration, liquefiable foundations, and inadequate spillway capacity are provided along with discussion on which deficiencies contribute the greatest risk.
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G. L. Sills, N. D. Vroman, J. B. Dunbar, R. E. Wahl
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall just east of New Orleans and inflicted widespread damage on the Hurricane Protection System (HPS) for southeast Louisiana. Subsequent flooding was a major catastrophe for the region and the Nation.
The response to this disaster by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included forming an Interagency
Performance Evaluation Taskforce (IPET) to study the response of the system and, among many lines of inquiry, to identify causes of failure of levees and floodwalls.
Beginning in September 2005, the IPET gathered geotechnical forensic data from failed portions of levees and floodwalls. Major clues discovered at the 17th Street break, including clay wedges dividing a formerly continuous layer of peat, led to an explanation of the failures. Field data from the failure sites were interpreted within the regional geologic setting of the New Orleans area to identify geologic and geotechnical factors that contributed to the catastrophe. The data gathered provided a method that resulted in the “IPET Strength Model.” This strength was used in analyses of the I-walls and levees using limit equilibrium stability analyses, physical modeling using a powerful centrifuge, and finite-element analyses.
The results of all three types of studies revealed a consistent mode of failure that included deformation of the I-walls and foundation instability. The IPET also studied non-failed I-walls at Orleans and Michoud Canals, to identify geotechnical, structural, and geologic distinctions between failed and non-failed reaches.
Performance of the HPS during Hurricane Katrina offered many lessons to be learned. These lessons learned include: the lack of resiliency in the HPS; the need for risk-based planning and design approach; the need for the examination of system-wide functionality; and knowledge, technology, and expertise deficiencies in the HPS arena. In addition, understanding of the failure mechanisms and related causes of the levee and floodwall breaches provides a new direction for future designs of hurricane protection systems.
Peter Hill, Rory Nathan, Phillip Jordan, Mark Pearse
This paper outlines the development and application of the Risk Analysis Prioritisation Tool (RAPT) which has been developed as an interactive tool to aid dam safety risk management. RAPT allows the risk profile and prioritisation of upgrades to be incrementally updated as inputs are refined. The paper outlines some of the requirements of a risk management tool and the resulting functionality of RAPT and the lessons learnt from its application to more than 75 dams.
Issues covered include:
Ensuring compliance with the Regulator’s requirements is a cornerstone consideration for any water corporation in planning its risk minimisation strategies against dam failure. With the increased focus on due diligence and corporate governance however, there are emerging themes that are of equal importance for a water corporation in planning protections against its core risks to dam safety.
These considerations include:
• documenting and implementing plans and strategies to ensure corporate compliance with the
Regulator’s requirements and updating these in line with legislative and policy changes;
• Documenting and implementing the corporation’s defences to the common law duty of care for
public liability, including keeping up to date with the latest case law development locally and
internationally in interpreting implications in respect of damage to property and injury and loss of
life in relation to dam failure.
• Adopting behaviours and practices that bear out a compliance culture – is the current dam safety
assessment and training “best practice” and is this enough to defend a claim? What is reasonable
in economic and practical terms to ensure defensibility?
• ensuring the Board, Executive and other Officers are informed of operational decisions and
incidents and their advice is implemented;
• arranging and maintaining appropriate insurances if available for public liability and property
damage, as well as protections for directors and officers, both past and current.
• Developing and implementing a policy for disclosure, document management and retention that will support investigation for legal proceedings purposes; including providing privilege for relevant
David M. Schaaf, P.E., Jeff Schaefer, Ph.D., P.E., P.G
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has an inventory of over 600 dams. The main purpose of many of these dams is for flood control, but there are a significant number of dams primarily used for navigation. Additional benefits at many of these projects are provided through hydropower generation, recreation, and irrigation for farmers. Many of the dams are quite old and represent an aging infrastructure across the inventory. In addition, leaner budgets relative to the need for repairs across the aging system require that USACE invest wisely in order to efficiently use available funds to reduce the greatest risks across the inventory. Previously, individual projects with perceived deficiencies were evaluated separately by the responsible district. This evaluation was not compared in any programmatic way to other USACE dams being evaluated for deficiencies.
In order to improve the process of making risk-based decisions across the entire spectrum of USACE dams, the Screening for Portfolio Risk Assessment (SPRA) for the USACE Dam Safety Program was initiated during the summer of 2005. This effort represents the first level of a multiple phased effort to bring full scale risk assessment to the decision-making regarding making investment decisions associated with dam safety by linking engineering reliability with economic and life loss impacts on a relative scale. The SPRA effort involved the development of a tool for evaluating the relative life and economic risk of dam failures for a variety of deficiencies across the inventory of USACE dams. This paper will focus on the basic aspects of the evaluation tool as well as the process by which the screening was completed.
Peter J Burgess, Delfa Sarabia, John Small, H. G. Poulos and Jayanta Sinha
The assessment of settlement behaviour of clay core rock fill dams has always been a challenge for dam designers and geotechnical engineers. The method of construction and the material properties of the clay and rock fill materials used in the dam construction have a significant influence on the inter-zonal interaction and the load transfer that occurs within the dam. At times this load transfer can lead to excessive differential and total settlements. The paper presents a case study of a major dam that experienced large settlements during and after construction. An elaborate analysis has been carried out by modelling the sequences of construction by using a finite element program (PLAXIS).
The paper describes the influence of the degree of compaction and moisture control on non-linear deformation characteristics of clay core. High vertical strains in the wet placed region of the core and low strains in the dry placed regions were analysed for possible shear development between the core and shell. The rock fill for the dam embankment consists of quartzite, metasiltstone and phyllite material. These materials have apparently undergone deformation with increasing height of the dam due to softening and crushing as saturation of the embankment took place. The effect of soil consolidation and strength gains have been considered in the analysis and are discussed. The settlement behaviour of the dam including these effects has been analysed, and compared with the historical post-construction settlements.
This paper is intended to provide valuable information for dam engineers handling clay core rock fill dams – especially where there is excessive settlement of the core.