Verbund – Austrian Hydro Power (AHP) is the owner and operator of 27 large dams. The highest dam is the 200 m high Koelnbrein arch dam and the highest embankment dam is the 83 m high Durlass-boden dam. Instrumentation of the dams of AHP comprises almost all kinds of instruments employed in dam monitoring. Manual measurements are carried out with the help of portable terminals. Auto-matic monitoring with an early warning system is implemented at all dams. Besides a description of the monitoring system and some “interesting” measurement results the article also deals with organisational aspects of dam surveillance.
The case study of Koelnbrein arch dam is appended to the article. It contains a brief description of the original dam and the encountered problems as well as of the main elements of the remedial works. Dam surveillance and the performance up to now are also dealt with.
John D Smart
The paper presents the recent trends in the use of instrumentation and survey measurements at Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) dams. The underlying philosophy that has influenced those trends is presented and discussed. Based on experience at Reclamation, several factors that are considered key to the effective use of instrumentation and surveys are discussed. Several conclusions are offered.,
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:
Internal erosion and piping within embankment dams may initiate in cracks caused by differential settlement or desiccation, in cracks caused by hydraulic fracture and in very poorly compacted layers of soil. It generally cannot occur unless one of these defects is present because backwards erosion, the other mechanism for internal erosion, will not occur in embankments under normal gradients and will not occur in cohesive soils unless gradients are exceptionally high.
As a result it is very unlikely that it will be possible to detect initiation of erosion with piezometers, and the most likely successful method is seepage observation and monitoring. However the time from the first detection of increased seepage to breach of the dam may be very short-a matter of hours in some situations.
Thoughtfully positioned and read piezometers are more likely to be successful in identifying the critical gradients which may lead to the onset of backwards erosion in cohesionless soils in the foundation of dams.
Piezometers are more useful in establishing the pore pressures for use in analysis of stability, but in most cases where stability is marginal undrained strength analysis is required and the pore pressures and effective strengths alone are not sufficient to assess stability. In a number of cases differential settlements, and acceleration of settlements have proven valuable in detecting the on-set of instability and the conditions in which internal erosion and piping to initiate. Once these conditions are recognised more detailed survey monitoring and borehole inclinometers can be valuable in better defining the geometry of instability.
Roger Vreugdenhil, Joanna Campbell
The dams industry is immersed in a changing environment. It is one of many industry sectors in Australia becoming acutely aware of the impacts of ageing practitioners and a competitive labour market. Shortages of skills and labour are impacting on all participants. The constraints around recruitment and retention are further amplified for dam owners in some States by increasing expenditure regulation and accountability.
People choosing to leave or retire from the dams profession per se does not necessarily pose a problem. Instead, problems arise if insufficient transfer of valuable knowledge has occurred prior to their departure, if the rate of replenishment is inadequate to cope with current and future industry workload, and if there is no innovation around what workforce is involved. Future work will likely be characterised by remedial works for existing dams rather than new dam construction, with an increased focus on environmental restoration, and optimisation of operations and maintenance to minimise losses and maximise productivity. These tasks require a great level of skills in leadership and innovation, equal to any level previously applied to this industry.
Organisational goals and decisions have to be realised through people and it appears that many people are taking up their roles differently than in the past. The authors, both Generation X, contend that the core issue is as much a challenge of imagination as it is a crisis of human resourcing. Greater imagination is required around: the image presented by the profession; retention and replenishment of personnel; appropriately connecting people of different generations to their individual roles; developing leaders comfortable with the sentient aspects of organisation life and capable of collaboration; and sustainable management of knowledge.
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.