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.
The Water Act 2003 established a new role for the Environment Agency, that of the Enforcement Authority for the Reservoirs Act 1975 in England and Wales. The transfer of this regulatory role from 136 Local Authorities has had a significant impact on the regulated community. Further change is heralded with the forthcoming introduction of Reservoir Flood Plans, Post-Incident Reporting and a review of current regulations. The improvements sought in reservoir safety may be at risk due to a growing skills shortage and increasing financial constraints imposed by owners.
This paper highlights the issues impacting on the reservoir industry in England and Wales and in recognising developments made by ANCOLD members the author seeks to understand how they are being responded to in Australia.
John Bosler and Francisco Lopez
The ANCOLD “Guidelines for the Design of Dams for Earthquake” were published in August 1998. The guidelines contain a brief outline of the performance requirements and recommend, in general terms, a method of analysis for intake towers.
Over the last three decades there has been considerable research on the seismic performance of intake towers as they move into their inelastic range. In the years following the publication of the ANCOLD guidelines, some of the findings from this research have been incorporated into revised design procedures issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers. These procedures, if embraced by ANCOLD and the local dam engineering community, are likely to have a significant impact on how the structural adequacy of existing towers under seismic loading are assessed.
Rocking behaviour in which the tower becomes unstable as a transient condition has long been recognised as acceptable under certain conditions. Attempts to prevent tower rocking by measures such as retrofitting tensioned ground anchors may, in some situations, be of limited value in improving the seismic performance of a tower and could result in an increase in bending moments in the tower stem. Guidance is now available on the amount of rocking behaviour that is tolerable.
For seismic events greater than the Operating Basis Earthquake most towers will start to exhibit inelastic behaviour. Specific guidance is also now available on the length of time during an earthquake that bending moments in excess of the elastic capacity can be tolerated, the amount by which these moments can exceed the nominal bending moment capacity and the vertical extent of the tower stem that can be stressed beyond its elastic limit.
The paper discusses the different approaches taken by ANCOLD and the Corps of Engineers. Key differences in outcomes are highlighted using a worked example for a typical reinforced concrete tower and the ANCOLD approach is found to be generally, but not always, more conservative. The paper concludes with recommendations for dealing with these differences.
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.
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:
D.N.D. Hartford and P. A. Zielinski
With the notable exceptions of dyke safety in the Netherlands and dam safety in Australia, explicit consideration of the equity versus efficiency dilemma associated with dam safety decision-making has been virtually ignored in the past debates related to safety of dams thus leading to inconsistent judgments in the development of dam safety policies. The equity-efficiency dilemma is now being debated in Canada as part of the process of revising the Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines. This paper explains how the argument in favour of formulating the new Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines within the formal risk assessment and risk management framework is being presented. The paper then focuses on the difficulties involved in aligning the well tried and tested and generally successful traditional approach to dam safety with the relatively untried and untested risk assessment approach. While the paper does not provide a significantly different perspective (a made in Canada approach) to the role of risk assessment in dam safety management as established in Australia and as presented in ICOLD Bulletin 130 (ICOLD, 2005), it does challenge some aspects of the ways dams are classified in the emerging risk assessment frameworks for dam safety management.