Leonard A McDonald
Dam safety regulators look for evidence in support of the safety status of dams and to justify the need for safety improvements. Instrumentation and monitoring have a key role in providing the needed evidence.
In New South Wales, the Dams Safety Committee [the DSC] is the regulator of dam safety. The purposes of instrumentation and monitoring from the viewpoint of the DSC are set out, along with the current regulatory requirements in New South Wales. The relationship of instrumentation and monitoring to the tolerability of risk is discussed. There are remarks on some special considerations for a regulator and on the contemporary trend to remote sensing for the capture of information. Two case studies are described to show how instrumentation and monitoring has improved the understanding of dam behaviour. Some pitfalls to avoid are listed from DSC experience. Finally, there is an outline of matters that a regulator would see deserve attention if ANCOLD does undertake preparation of a guideline document on instrumentation and monitoring.
Legal and moral requirements necessitate an “equivalent to industry standard” approach to dam management by all dam owners. As an urban authority Central Highlands Water has a portfolio of dams with a broad range of classification and risk. ANCOLD Guidelines form the basis of our approach to dam management. Thus any guidelines developed can have significant affect on our budget and operation. Guidelines with requirements targeted at extreme and high hazard dams managed by large authorities with “deep pockets” may not be reasonable to impose upon low risk structures managed by lesser authorities. This does not mean smaller authorities want to do it on the “cheap” but budgets for such infrastructure can be hard to sustain. Consequently when guidelines are considered so too should the flow on affect to those who must implement them.
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.
C Lake and J Walker
Meridian Energy is the owner and operator of a chain of hydro dams on the Waitaki River in the South Island of NZ. It operates a Dam Safety Assurance Programme which reflects current best practice; consequently it has focused primarily on managing civil dam assets. Advances in plant control technology have allowed de-manning of our power stations, dams and canals through centralised control. The safety of our hydraulic structures is increasingly reliant on the performance of Dam Safety Critical Plant (DSCP) – those items of plant (eg water level monitoring, gates, their power and control systems, and sump pumps) which are required to operate automatically, or under operator control, to assure safety of the hydraulic structures in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances.
Recent dam safety reviews have highlighted that the specification and testing of our DSCP is based on the application of ‘rules of thumb’ which have been established through engineering practice (eg. “monthly tests”, “third level of protection”, “backup power sources”, “triple voted floats”). The adequacy of these engineering practices is difficult to defend as they are not based on published criteria. The realisation that such rules may not be relevant to the increased demand on, and complexity of, DSCP led us to ask “Which belts and braces do we really need?”
The current NZSOLD (2000) and ANCOLD (2003) Dam Safety guidelines give little guidance regarding specific criteria for the design and operation of DSCP. Meridian has identified the use of Functional Safety standards (from the Process industry, defined in IEC 61511) as a tool which can be applied to the dams industry to review the risks to the hydraulic structures, the demands on the DSCP, and utilise corporate “tolerable risk” definitions to establish the reliability requirements (Safety Integrity Levels) of each protection, and determine lifecycle criteria for the design, operation, testing, maintenance, and review of those protections.
This paper outlines the background to identifying Functional Safety as a suitable tool for this purpose, and the practical application of Functional Safety Analysis to Meridian’s DSCP.
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.
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.