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.
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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.
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.
A. Uromeihy, P.G. Ranjith
In response to increasing potable water need and in order to control and collect precipitations, many dams have been constructed and many more are under construction in Iran. Due to the complex geology of the country, many of the dam sites face serious geological problems both during construction and in operation phases. The most predominant types of problems are water leakage and sediment deposition in the reservoirs. In order to define and classify the type of problem with regards to geological condition, the country is divided into eight zonesin whicheach zone demonstrates similar problem on the dam site location. It is found that the water leakage is related directly to either the presence of soluble carbonate rocks in the abutment or the presence of thick permeable material in the foundation. It is also shown that the sediment deposition in the reservoir is related to many factors but the geology of the watershed area has a major effect. Therefore it can be concluded that the geology has a great role in the construction of dams.
Jeffrey A. Schaefer, Ph.D., P.E., P.G. and David M. Schaaf, P.E.
In 2005 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed and implemented a Screening Portfolio Risk Assessment (SPRA) process for Dam Safety. The screening process considered loading frequency, an engineering rating to estimate a relative probability of failure, and both human life and economic consequences of failure. The results were utilized as a tool to help prioritize funding for dam safety modification projects and required studies. Three multidisciplinary cadres evaluated what was considered the worst 10% of the USACE’s dam projects in 2005 and the next worst 10% in 2006. The dams evaluated included flood control, navigation, and multi-purpose dams. Approximately seventy facilities were evaluated each year.
As a result of the aging of the USACE’s dam portfolio and the state of the art at the time of design and construction (mostly 1940’s-50’s), significant dam safety deficiencies exist at many USACE dams. This paper summarizes the major deficiencies identified from the SPRA process. Examples, including foundation seepage, karst development, embankment stability, gate deterioration, liquefiable foundations, and inadequate spillway capacity are provided along with discussion on which deficiencies contribute the greatest risk.
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.