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.
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.
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:
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.
Malcolm Barker, Barry Vivian and David S. Bowles
Ross River Dam is located approximately 15 km upstream of Townsville and provides a dual role of water supply and flood mitigation. The dam comprises a 39.6m long concrete overflow spillway flanked by a central core rockfill embankment of 300 m in length with a 7,620 m long left bank earth fill embankment, which has inadequate internal filter zones for piping protection. Since completion, design rainfall predictions for the area have doubled, technical data has changed and so, too, have dam safety standards. Dam safety evaluations during 2000-2002 showed that the dam required upgrading in order to bring it up to international standards. As an interim measure, the spillway was cut down by 3.6m.
Upgrade design works were then completed using risk-based design criteria to validate the design, and construction is in progress. The upgrade works comprise spillway anchoring, installation of three radial gates on the spillway, stilling basin modifications, embankment filter protection, and dam crest raising.
This paper presents the options considered, the method of reliability analysis, and how the results influenced the spillway system design and overall risk evaluation for the upgrade design.
B Simmons, N Mudge
In 2004 the NSW Government released its Metropolitan Water Plan (MWP). This plan detailed the government’s initiatives to secure Sydney’s water needs during the current drought and into the future. The MWP outlined a range of both demand and supply side measures. These included modification to Warragamba and Nepean dams so that the water at the bottom of the dams that is currently unavailable for water supply can be accessed.
Accessing this deep water will increase the available water supply by an additional six months in the immediate drought and will provide, on average, an additional 40GL/annum to our long term available water supply.
The Warragamba Dam Deep Water Access Project involves accessing and transferring water from deep in Warragamba Dam to the existing water supply system.
Phase One of the project saw an abandoned underground pumping station 1.5km downstream of the dam wall, being enlarged and upgraded to pump water from the low level pipeline into the existing water transfer pipelines.
Phase Two of the project involved making a penetration low on the dam wall, some ninety metres below full storage level to access the deep water. This enabled the water to flow into the new pumping station, through an existing underground pipeline.
This project and in particular Phase Two was extremely unique due to the saturation diving systems and specialist tooling systems needed to create the penetration in the dam wall. The project provides a reference point for the water industry for future similar works.
This paper describes the project that was initiated at Warragamba Dam to access the deep water and is focused on the extremely difficult and unique works associated with creating the low level penetration in the dam wall.