Michael Somerford, Alex Gower
The Water Corporation is the principal dam owner in Western Australian with a portfolio of 95 dams. In the absence of dam safety legislation in Western Australia the Corporation has adopted a policy of self regulation. This paper presents how the Corporation’s dam safety policy has been implemented with respect to dam instrumentation and monitoring. It includes a summary of the type of instruments used and experiences with automated data collection systems. The paper concludes that the Corporation does not see a need for a dam instrumentation guideline, however a document summarising current Australian practices and experiences would be of value.
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When undertaking a program of quantitative surveillance of dams the potential to make expensive decisions based on inaccurate and/or inappropriate data always exists. The implementation of a ‘quality’ based system of quantitative surveillance as identified in the ANCOLD Guidelines On Dam Safety Management 2003 can reduce the likelihood of making these inappropriate decisions.
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.
Ridges Basin Dam is part of the Animas-La Plata Project. When topped out in approximately 2008, it will be Reclamation’s newest dam. It will have a structural height of 273 feet and impound 120,000 acre-feet of water. This paper will discuss the design of the embankment and will detail the site geology, the general design considerations for layout and zoning, and other technical considerations. The construction, which began in 2004, is ongoing. This paper will also discuss foundation treatment and cleanup, the placement of the embankment material, grouting, and the unusual material processing for filters and drains, along with general construction details. Also included in the paper are the challenging arrangements for contracting by the American Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Law, an overview of the dam safety risk analyses conducted on the yet-to-be-constructed embankment, and modern construction techniques being utilized to build the embankment.
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:
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.