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.
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.
This paper reviews the general principles of duty of care which assist in the understanding of responsibilities that may exist for surveillance of dam safety, including the inter-play of the common law and statutory law. Only when there is a foundation in the general principles can obligations upon dam owners/operators with respect to surveillance and instrumentation be interpreted. Some legal issues around the development and use of industry guidelines are also explored.
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:
We can all learn by our mistakes and the experience of others. This paper seeks to look at three incidents/accidents which recently occurred in the UK so that others can learn from them. The paper then seeks to answer the question as to whether we are improving in looking after our dams in the UK in respect of reservoir safety.