Graeme Maher, Richard Herweynen, Martin Mallen-Cooper and Stuart Marshall
Increasing awareness of the environmental impact of dams means that fish passage is emerging as a critical issue for both existing and new dams in Australia.
The fish passage and outlet works for Wyaralong Dam, a new dam currently under construction, required accommodation of large ranges of head and tailwater levels. The solution that has been adopted, a bi‐directional fishlift using a single hopper with trapping for downstream fish movement occurring within the intake tower, is a world first. The solution required the innovative integration of a number of existing technologies to create a system which is necessarily complex, yet reliable and effective.
The paper incorporates discussion of the critical design constraints, the biology of fish passage, the process adopted to reach the concept solution and a description of the final design including its integration with the outlet works. A number of design issues and their solution are discussed in detail, particularly those associated with dealing with the complexity of the design constraints and how the components of the solution were integrated into a seamless design.
The paper will be of use to those involved in the process of providing fish passage on both existing and new structures that obstruct river flow.
A Bi-Directional Fishlift – An Innovative Solution for Fish Passage
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Thomas Vasconi, Mike Gowan
This paper describes the methodology adopted for the design of a 180 m-high stepped chute spillway to be constructed on a mine tailings storage facility (TSF) in Africa. This TSF dam, constructed using the “downstream method”, will be raised progressively via a series of nine lifts as mining proceeds. The first eight will be equipped with an operational spillway sized for the 1in 10,000 AEP whilst the ninth will house the closure spillway sized for the Probable Maximum Flood. The problem, common to all staged tailings dams, is how to design the spillways for such raising sequence? The very steep ridge declivity favored locating them in a unique configuration rather than the more usual separate hillside spillway on each dam abutment. The design of such spillways was challenging since it had to integrate the TSF interdependency parameters (water balance, dam raise sequence) whilst including flood routing, spillway sizing, stepped spillway design components. Challenging aspects of the design also included optimizing the costs associated with the short service life of these spillways. Furthermore, the design was undertaken in a way that the operating stepped chute could be upgraded and reused at mine closure. The design incorporates an innovative solution which allows reduction in the rock armouring quantity of up to 40% with associated cost benefits, and sustainability in terms of material usage. The lessons learnt in applying this innovative and sustainable design are useful for other sites requiring adaptive construction and short service life spillways.
Keywords: Tailings storage facility, stepped chute spillway, hydrology, hydraulics, mine water management.
Richard Herweynen, Robert Montalvo, John Ager
The choice of materials used in the construction of a dam is one of the most critical decisions in the design process. Our natural behaviour as engineers is to adopt materials which have proven performance, and which conform to Australian or international standards, which sometimes causes us to overlook the specific conditions and demands of the project at hand. In an environment where the majority of concrete produced is for structural purposes, the properties of these concretes is often vastly different to those desired for mass concrete structures such as dams and spillways.
The big question at Wyaralong Dam was could onsite aggregate be used in the Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC)? The Wyaralong Dam is located in the Gatton Sandstone (early Jurassic), predominantly feldspathic to lithic‐feldspathic sandstones with a clay matrix. Early analyses and tests suggested that the Gatton Sandstone was not suitable for RCC aggregate due to a 68% wet/dry strength reduction, high water absorption (5.2 – 7.5%) and petrographic interpretation that clay content was mainly swelling clay, leading to durability concerns.
Due to significant community, safety and cost issues with importing aggregate, Wyaralong Dam Alliance (WDA), during the development of the RCC mix design for Wyaralong Dam, chose to pursue the use of onsite quarried sandstone aggregate instead of importing aggregate. Additional petrographic and XRD analyses and extensive durability tests were undertaken on cores of sandstone and RCC samples, including wet‐dry cycles, soak tests in ethylene glycol, soaks in sodium hydroxide, and heating and cooling cycles. These tests indicated that, if swelling clays are present, they do not impact the durability behavior of the RCC aggregate.
The substantial effort put into testing the sandstone aggregate has paid off for WDA. Not only have the results indicated that the RCC mix performs remarkably well in terms of durability, but the very low modulus of elasticity of the mix has provided exceptional performance in terms of thermal loading; with all the related benefits in reduced restrictions to placement schedule and cooling requirements. Onsite sandstone was not only proven to be a feasible option, it has been demonstrated that it is the best option for the project. Details of the study are provided in this paper.
Keywords: Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC), Sandstone, Aggregate, Clay, Mix, Durability
David Scriven, Errol Beitz, Aaron Elphinstone
The Bowen River Weir is located at AMTD 94.4 km on the Bowen River, some 25 km south of Collinsville in North Queensland. The weir is part of the Bowen/Broken Rivers Water Supply Scheme and it provides a pumping pool for pipelines serving two nearby coal mining developments and a power station, and also acts as a regulator for riparian water users downstream until it meets the Burdekin River.
The weir was constructed in 1982 and incorporated a fishway towards the southern (left) bank, the design of which was based on the old “pool and weir” fish ladder type layout, typical of that era, with 48 separate cells containing partial vertical slots and baffles. This design has since been found to be ineffective for Australian native fish. In addition it was often out of service due to cells becoming filled with river sediment and debris. For these reasons it was decommissioned and made safe in late 2008 on the condition that a new fishway be constructed.
In late 2008 agreement was reached with Fisheries Queensland to install a “fish lock” type fishway at the site. This type of fishway has in recent years proved to be reliable and effective (eg. successful fish locks at Neville Hewitt and Claude Wharton Weirs). The preliminary and then final design was undertaken by SunWater (Infrastructure Development) between September 2008 and March 2009. The construction was undertaken by SunWater direct management, commencing in July 2009 and completed in late 2010.
Bowen River Weir Fishway – Design and Construction
Hamish Smith, Graeme Maher
In order to achieve environmental sustainability it has become standard engineering practice to include a fishway on all new or refurbished large dams in Australia.
As regulators expand their understanding of fishways, project approval conditions associated with these complex engineering structures are changing. Regulators now increasingly wish to participate in the development and selection of the final fishway to be adopted.
This paper describes the process developed and implemented at Queensland’s most recent dam under construction, the Wyaralong Dam, to ensure that the views and opinions of regulators and stakeholders were sought and considered during the fishway selection and design process.
With no written guidelines available on “how to select and design a suitable fishway”, all associated parties entered into the process without a full knowledge of how it would unfold and what the final outcome would be.
This paper demonstrates that in an increasingly regulated environment it is possible to have regulators, proponents and stakeholders work cooperatively together to achieve a result that provides for sustainable development and is acceptable to all parties.
This paper will provide a model that could be adopted for the development of new fishways or the refurbishment of existing fishways on large dams in Australasia.
Changing Regulatory Environment – Large Dams and Fishways
An essential criterion for any new dam project in Australia is to provide for passage of fish past the structure in both the upstream and downstream direction. In recent projects with a relatively high barrier this has been provided by mechanised systems such as locks, lifts or a combination of both.
A nature-like fishway provides for passage of fish past a barrier by applying some of the features of natural streams. The concept has been increasingly applied to fishway designs in North America and Europe. A nature-like fishway will provide variable flow depths, velocities and turbulence across its width and along its length and is constructed using natural materials to simulate the natural stream characteristics. The variable flow conditions coupled with the use of natural materials inherently result in different channel substrates that support the passage of a large range and size of fish species as well as other aquatic species. Where fish habitat has been depleted, a nature-like fishway can also supplement and enhance aquatic habitat.
The performance of nature-like fishways can be difficult to quantify due the very nature of the system. However, qualitative assessments in North America are indicating that a wide range of species are using such fishways and that fish species that were previously extirpated from rivers are again migrating.
The nature-like fishway concept has been applied to in-stream structures up to four metres high in the eastern states of Australia. However, the substantial progress made with this design in North America and Europe has not as yet been applied in this country.
This paper analyses the advantages and disadvantages of nature-like fishways over mechanised systems, such as locks and lifts, and makes an assessment of the suitability of the concept to dams in Australia with relatively high walls.