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.
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Lawrie Schmitt and Angus Paton
As the owner of most of the large dams in South Australia the South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water) is responsible for the safety of these structures and their designed function of water supply and flood control. In order to meet these responsibilities SA Water monitors the performance of the structures using engineering deformation surveys and various forms of instrumentation. This paper outlines the instrumentation and survey monitoring undertaken at SA Water large dams and discusses the issues arising.
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.
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.
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:
As one of Australia’s largest dam owners, Hydro Tasmania maintains a comprehensive Dam Safety Program. The Program makes use of industry Guidelines in combination with complementary processes to form a decision framework. This framework drives dam improvement initiatives, one of which is the development and operation of survey and instrumentation programs. It is Hydro Tasmania’s belief that the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management currently provide adequate descriptive guidance with regards to survey and instrumentation and it is questionable if more prescriptive Guidelines are prudent or required. Hydro Tasmania believes that a Guideline presenting a decision framework from which targeted Survey, instrumentation and inspection programs and other initiatives can evolve would be a welcomed document to the Australian dams community.