A brief overview of dam surveillance is given from a South African perspective and more specifically the perspective of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). DWAF’s Ten Commandments for the design of dam monitoring systems serve as introduction and this is followed by a summary of the design steps. The various parameters that can be measured and the South African preferences are discussed briefly followed by a synoptic description of crack and joint monitoring in South Africa. This provides the background for DWAF’s recent developments in 3-D Crack-Tilt gauges. Some of DWAF’s achievements as well as some of the blunders made by the author during the past 30 years are illustrated by means of a few case histories.
Janice H. Green and Jeanette Meighen
The Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) is defined as ‘the theoretical greatest depth of
precipitation that is physically possible over a particular catchment’. The PMP depths provided by
the Bureau of Meteorology are described as ‘operational estimates of the PMP’ as they represent the best estimate of the PMP depth that can be made, based on the relatively small number of large events that have been observed and our limited knowledge of the causative mechanisms of extreme rainfalls.
Nevertheless, the magnitudes of the PMP depths provided by the Bureau are often met with scepticism concerning their accuracy when compared to large rainfall events which have been observed within catchments and which are, typically, only 20% to 25% of the PMP estimates. The recent increases in the PMP depths, resulting from the revision of the Generalised Tropical Storm Method (GTSMR), have served only to entrench this cynicism.
However, analyses of the magnitudes of the storms in the databases adopted for deriving PMP depths show that these observed storms constituted up to 76% of the corresponding GTSMR PMP depths and up to 80% of the Generalised Southeast Australia Method PMPs for the storm location. Further, comparisons of the PMP depths to large storms observed in similar climatic regions around the world indicate that the PMPs are not outliers.
The results of these analyses are presented for a range of catchment locations and sizes and storm durations and demonstrate that the PMP estimates provided by the Bureau of Meteorology are reasonable and are not unduly large.
David S. Bowles
Portfolio Risk Management is a risk-informed approach for improved management of dam safety for a portfolio of dams in the context of the owner’s business. It can be used to identify ways to strengthen technical and organisational aspects of a dam safety program, and to provide valuable inputs to various business processes. Portfolio Risk Assessment is a decision-support tool, which is incorporated in Portfolio Risk Management. It can combine engineering standards and risk assessment approaches to provide a systematic means for identifying, estimating and evaluating dam safety risks, including comparisons with other industries. It should be periodically updated to provide a basis for managing prioritised queues of investigations and risk-reduction measures to achieve more rapid and cost-effective reduction of both knowledge uncertainty and risk.
Portfolio Risk Assessment is a standard of practice in Australia and is being applied by the US Army Corps of Engineers and others. When properly conducted and used within its limitations, the Portfolio Risk Assessment process is generally considered to be robust, adaptive, defensible for corporate governance, and to justify its cost through such benefits as increased dam safety funding, identification of failure modes that were not previously recognised, identification of opportunities for improved risk management, and more rapid “knowledge uncertainty” and risk reduction.
Karen Soo Kee
Strategic resource management has never been more important than it is today with the aging of the “baby boomers” and their ongoing exodus from the workforce. The vacancies they leave in professions such as engineering are just beginning to be felt and will exponentially escalate over the next few years. Specialised professions such as dam engineering and related professions will be hit the hardest as the knowledge and skills learnt over decades are depleted.
The lack of skilled staff and in fact the lack of interest of young engineers in entering the dam industry is one of the critical challenges for today. How do we attract professional staff into the field of dam safety before the exodus creates a “black hole” that can never be filled? And how can we ensure the knowledge transfer from existing skilled staff to newer staff to retain expertise within the industry?
Another issue for resource management is that tomorrow’s workers, the “X &Y generations”, will be unlike the current and previous generations of workers. These workers will be less likely to have a mortgage, will have fewer children and be more interested in lifestyle, not career. They will be extremely confident, well-educated and very mobile. The future will be a sellers market. The challenge here will not only be to attract and recruit talented workers but also to retain them.
M Gillon, T Logan, N Logan
The paper has been prepared to support the key questions selected for the ANCOLD Dam Instrumentation and Survey Seminar to be held in Sydney in November 2006 and to provide a New Zealand perspective. The paper is not a ‘state of dam monitoring practice in New Zealand’ dissertation but is rather a targeted summary of the authors’ experiences and observations from practicing in this area.
These experiences and observations on dam monitoring are grouped under the following headings, reflecting the key questions:
In Austria, special procedures for ensuring dam safety apply to dams higher than 15 m or reservoirs with a capacity of more than 500,000 m³. There are at present about 90 dams which belong to this category. The largest one is the 200 m high Kölnbrein arch dam.
In general, it is the task of the dam owner to provide for the safety of a dam. For that, he has to appoint qualified engineers, the “Dam Safety Engineers”, which are in charge of dam surveillance and maintenance. The Water Authority verifies that the owner makes the necessary provisions for dam safety. Water Authorities are the Provincial Governor and the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. The Water Authorities are supported by a governmental advisory board, the “Austrian Commission on Dams”.
Projects for new dams or for reconstruction of existing dams are examined by the Austrian Commission on Dams. Approval by the Water Authority is based on the findings of this commission. A group of a few experts of the commission accompanies the project during construction, first impounding and the final acceptance procedure. In normal operation, dam attendants carry out visual inspections and measurements. The most important instruments are measured automatically and the data are transmitted to a permanently manned control centre. The Dam Safety Engineer has to inspect the dam at least once a year. His annual report to the Water Authorities must contain an assessment of the safety of the dam. The Federal Dam Supervisory Department of the ministry checks the annual reports and carries out an in-depth inspection of the dam at least every five years.
In the case of extraordinary events, the Dam Safety Engineer has to assess the situation and he has to set appropriate measures. An Emergency Action Plan is available for all dams of the said category.