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.
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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.
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:
• documenting and implementing plans and strategies to ensure corporate compliance with the
Regulator’s requirements and updating these in line with legislative and policy changes;
• Documenting and implementing the corporation’s defences to the common law duty of care for
public liability, including keeping up to date with the latest case law development locally and
internationally in interpreting implications in respect of damage to property and injury and loss of
life in relation to dam failure.
• Adopting behaviours and practices that bear out a compliance culture – is the current dam safety
assessment and training “best practice” and is this enough to defend a claim? What is reasonable
in economic and practical terms to ensure defensibility?
• ensuring the Board, Executive and other Officers are informed of operational decisions and
incidents and their advice is implemented;
• arranging and maintaining appropriate insurances if available for public liability and property
damage, as well as protections for directors and officers, both past and current.
• Developing and implementing a policy for disclosure, document management and retention that will support investigation for legal proceedings purposes; including providing privilege for relevant
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.
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.
David M. Schaaf, P.E., Jeff Schaefer, Ph.D., P.E., P.G
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has an inventory of over 600 dams. The main purpose of many of these dams is for flood control, but there are a significant number of dams primarily used for navigation. Additional benefits at many of these projects are provided through hydropower generation, recreation, and irrigation for farmers. Many of the dams are quite old and represent an aging infrastructure across the inventory. In addition, leaner budgets relative to the need for repairs across the aging system require that USACE invest wisely in order to efficiently use available funds to reduce the greatest risks across the inventory. Previously, individual projects with perceived deficiencies were evaluated separately by the responsible district. This evaluation was not compared in any programmatic way to other USACE dams being evaluated for deficiencies.
In order to improve the process of making risk-based decisions across the entire spectrum of USACE dams, the Screening for Portfolio Risk Assessment (SPRA) for the USACE Dam Safety Program was initiated during the summer of 2005. This effort represents the first level of a multiple phased effort to bring full scale risk assessment to the decision-making regarding making investment decisions associated with dam safety by linking engineering reliability with economic and life loss impacts on a relative scale. The SPRA effort involved the development of a tool for evaluating the relative life and economic risk of dam failures for a variety of deficiencies across the inventory of USACE dams. This paper will focus on the basic aspects of the evaluation tool as well as the process by which the screening was completed.