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.
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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.
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.
This paper reviews the general principles of duty of care which assist in the understanding of responsibilities that may exist for surveillance of dam safety, including the inter-play of the common law and statutory law. Only when there is a foundation in the general principles can obligations upon dam owners/operators with respect to surveillance and instrumentation be interpreted. Some legal issues around the development and use of industry guidelines are also explored.
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.
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.