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.
Peter J Burgess, Delfa Sarabia, John Small, H. G. Poulos and Jayanta Sinha
The assessment of settlement behaviour of clay core rock fill dams has always been a challenge for dam designers and geotechnical engineers. The method of construction and the material properties of the clay and rock fill materials used in the dam construction have a significant influence on the inter-zonal interaction and the load transfer that occurs within the dam. At times this load transfer can lead to excessive differential and total settlements. The paper presents a case study of a major dam that experienced large settlements during and after construction. An elaborate analysis has been carried out by modelling the sequences of construction by using a finite element program (PLAXIS).
The paper describes the influence of the degree of compaction and moisture control on non-linear deformation characteristics of clay core. High vertical strains in the wet placed region of the core and low strains in the dry placed regions were analysed for possible shear development between the core and shell. The rock fill for the dam embankment consists of quartzite, metasiltstone and phyllite material. These materials have apparently undergone deformation with increasing height of the dam due to softening and crushing as saturation of the embankment took place. The effect of soil consolidation and strength gains have been considered in the analysis and are discussed. The settlement behaviour of the dam including these effects has been analysed, and compared with the historical post-construction settlements.
This paper is intended to provide valuable information for dam engineers handling clay core rock fill dams – especially where there is excessive settlement of the core.
N. Vitharana, G. McNally, C. Johnson, A. Thomas, K. Dart and P. Russell
Millbrook Reservoir is an offline storage with an earthen embankment dam containing a puddle clay core and a moderately sized upstream catchment. The dam is 31m high and has a capacity of 16.5 GL when the storage water level is at the Full SupplyLevel (FSL). The reservoir is 25km NE of Adelaide on Chain of Ponds Creek, a tributary of the River Torrens. The dam was constructed during the years 1914-1918. Earthworks were carried out only during summer as the five winters during the construction period were very wet.
Dam safety reviews and geotechnical investigations, undertaken between 2001 and 2004 by SKM, showed that these winter recesses would have created weak layers, increasing the potential for piping due to the lack of a filter. This was highlighted by the large deformations which occurred at the end of construction in 1918. The spillway was assessed as able to pass a flood event with AEP of 1:1,300,000. Given the location of the dam, ANCOLD(2000b) Guidelines suggest the dam should be able to safely pass the PMF flood event. Accordingly, the dam required upgrading to modern guidelines.
The 2005 detailed design of the upgrade included the construction of a 70m wide unlined spillway, construction of filters on the downstream face of the dam with a stabilisation (weighting) fill, installation of instrumentation and seismic protection of the outlet tower. The construction of these works is currently underway.
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:
Karen Soo Kee
Strategic resource management has never been more important than it is today with the aging of the “baby boomers” and their ongoing exodus from the workforce. The vacancies they leave in professions such as engineering are just beginning to be felt and will exponentially escalate over the next few years. Specialised professions such as dam engineering and related professions will be hit the hardest as the knowledge and skills learnt over decades are depleted.
The lack of skilled staff and in fact the lack of interest of young engineers in entering the dam industry is one of the critical challenges for today. How do we attract professional staff into the field of dam safety before the exodus creates a “black hole” that can never be filled? And how can we ensure the knowledge transfer from existing skilled staff to newer staff to retain expertise within the industry?
Another issue for resource management is that tomorrow’s workers, the “X &Y generations”, will be unlike the current and previous generations of workers. These workers will be less likely to have a mortgage, will have fewer children and be more interested in lifestyle, not career. They will be extremely confident, well-educated and very mobile. The future will be a sellers market. The challenge here will not only be to attract and recruit talented workers but also to retain them.
R. Dawson, J. Grimston, R. Cole, D. Bouma
The authors have been involved in the design and construction of several embankment dams in New Zealand over the past decade, and have considerable corporate knowledge from dams designed by the company in its 47-year history. This paper examines four dams which are relatively small to medium, ranging in height from 10 to 19 m with moderate storage volumes. Three of the dams service landfills and the fourth a wood processing mill. Such dams may provide the designer with considerable challenges due to their relatively low capital cost resulting in limited investment in geotechnical investigation at the front end of the project, with varying levels of change often required during construction due to unforeseen conditions as a result of the limited investigations.
The general arrangement and conceptual design principles for each of the dams is described followed by the field investigation and laboratory testing undertaken for each dam, together with the interpreted ground conditions.
The experiences from construction have helped to develop techniques for a balance between preliminary design, investigation, and evolution of the design and specification during construction. It is imperative to develop a sufficiently detailed preliminary design, on the basis of readily available information such as visual and geological assessment, to allow the investigation to be thoughtfully designed to allow the major assumptions to be verified. This needs to be followed by a skilfully executed geotechnical investigation with the designer advising on findings and changing direction as necessary through the investigation. An investigation trench along the full alignment of the cutoff trench (if envisaged in the design) is warranted. Earthworks specifications should be evolved early in the construction phase through compaction trials using specific plant for the site, and backed up by insitu and laboratory testing.