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
Aric Torreyson, Krey Price, Bob Hall
In a 2004 feasibility study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD) recommended decommissioning Matilija Dam, a concrete arch dam originally constructed to a 60-metre height in 1948. A decade after its completion, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) constructed the Ventura River Project, comprising additional facilities designed to meet the growing water demand of Ventura County. Robles Diversion Dam, a 7-metre high by 160-metre long diversion structure located downstream of Matilija Dam, was built under the Ventura River Project to feed Lake Casitas, a water supply reservoir that serves as an integral part of the overall project.
Due to extreme sedimentation, Matilija Dam no longer serves its intended water supply and flood control purposes. In addition to the loss of storage capacity, other issues surround the dam, including adverse environmental impacts from its continued operation, seismic considerations, and structural concerns. These concerns led to the decision to decommission the dam as an essential step in rehabilitating key ecosystems in the Ventura River Catchment and reducing future risks to public safety. According to current estimates, 5 million cubic metres of sediment has accumulated behind the dam and will need to be removed in conjunction with the dam decommissioning; minimising the associated downstream impacts has been the subject of additional government studies.
The USBR determined through detailed hydrologic, hydraulic, and sediment transport analyses, including numerical and physical modelling, that the existing Robles Diversion Dam was not capable of passing the increased sediment load expected to result from the removal of Matilija Dam. To increase the sediment transport capacity across its spillway, the existing diversion dam requires modification. Under contract with the Corps, Tetra Tech and its subcontractors are completing the design plans for the Robles Diversion Dam modifications.
This paper presents unique aspects of the Robles Diversion Dam modifications, including sediment management procedures guided by numerical and physical model results and issues associated with the design of a rock ramp spillway and high-flow fishway, expansion of the existing spillway gate structure, and raising of the dam embankment. The rehabilitation efforts reduce impacts to the migration of endangered fish species and allow for the eventual removal of Matilija Dam, which is the ultimate goal in the effort to balance engineered structures with a natural river setting. When completed, the project will provide fish passage to the upper catchment for the first time in over sixty years.
Jiri Herza, Nihal Vitharana, Alex Gower
The Western Australia Water Corporation plans to increase the storage capacity of Millstream Dam, which is located near Bridgetown in the south west region of WA. The existing dam is an 18 m high zoned earthfill embankment constructed in 1962. The dam suffered a block heave of the foundation at the downstream toe during the first filling, probably attributable to high foundation pore water pressures. The dam upgrade will be challenging due to complex and unfavourable foundation soils coupled with these artesian pressures.
The dam is founded on lateritic soil, which is a common weathering profile throughout the region. These soils formed in a tropical environment of fluctuating water tables, severe leaching and translocation of iron oxides over many millions of years. As a consequence some of the lateritic horizons at Millstream Dam have been modified such that they exhibit behaviours that are not consistent with conventional constitutive models and correlations. These are attributed to a complex structure of the soil microfabric, which comprises clay particles bonded together into larger aggregates. The clayey aggregates are also bonded to each other, forming a porous matrix of silty or sandy appearance characterized by low dry density and high void ratio, which may nevertheless disintegrate on working.
Comprehensive geotechnical investigations and extensive laboratory testing have revealed that the foundation materials display characteristics of clayey and granular soils. Under shearing, these soils demonstrate high initial strength, which gradually reduces as the inter-aggregate bonds are broken and the relative position of the aggregates changes. Several soil samples also exhibited significant contractive behaviour on shearing generating high pore pressures under undrained conditions.
This paper presents the investigation and design methods used in the foundation design of the Millstream Dam upgrade with emphasis on unusual behaviour of the foundation media.
Challenges in dam design on lateritic soils
Glen Hobbs, Robert Rigg, Alan Hobbs, Adam Butler
Maintenance errors and associated non-conformances are becoming increasingly recognised as a source of system failures in a wide range of industries. Research in other industries has shown that errors often arise in response to local factors beyond the control of the maintainer. Various dam ‘incidents’ have been attributed to maintenance errors. In Australia we have been fortunate with few serious dam safety events. However, the dam operating and maintenance environment is changing dramatically.
A survey of dam maintenance personnel was recently undertaken in Australia. The survey was in the form of 49 questions that asked participants to state how frequently a situation occurred. This survey format has previously been used in other industries; thus allowing a comparison of dam maintenance with other high-risk industries such as rail infrastructure, oil and gas, and airline maintenance.
A number of ‘error-producing’ conditions have been identified and survey results indicate a high level of poor procedures/documentation and supervision; highlighting the need for accurate and appropriate manuals and supervision of tasks. These and other factors are leading to instances of maintenance non-compliance, which may threaten the reliability and safety of equipment. The survey has revealed that trade training needs to be addressed. However, occupational safety issues are low; indicating a positive approach to a safe working environment. The paper also discusses the responses to specific maintenance questions relevant to the dam industry.
Steven Slarke, Martin Mallen-Cooper, Andrew Evans, John Prentice
As part of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority ‘Sea to Hume Dam’ program to restore fish passage along the River Murray, an innovative Denil fishway is being retrofitted into Mildura Weir (Lock 11). Due for completion in the latter half of 2010, the fishway will allow the upstream and downstream passage of medium and large sized fish past Mildura Weir, which has a difference in water levels of 3.5 metres.
Constructed on the sloped concrete apron at the left abutment of the Dethridge weir, the Mildura Weir Denil fishway design is innovative in the River Murray. The Denil fishway is essentially separate from the existing weir, and its superstructure can be fully removed from the river during floods. The fishway can also be progressively removed during periods of rising floodwaters, maintaining operation during periods when fish migrate in particularly large numbers. The fishway represents a cost effective design, reflecting the decision to maintain the current weir structure for a further forty years, but still providing passage to a broad range of fish sizes and species. Innovative fish monitoring and carp separation facilities will be provided, shared with the other River Murray fishways. But, unique to the River Murray, viewing windows are provided to allow the public to observe fish negotiating the fishway, and to enable a better understanding of fish movement.
Gavan Hunter and Robin Fell
Earthfill embankments in Australia have been widely used in dam construction since the start of the 20th century replacing the older puddle type and concrete corewall embankment designs. Most Australian dam portfolios will have one or more of these embankment types. A key component to the dam safety assessment of these dams is understanding their deformation behaviour, in particular the assessment of the future performance of these structures as they now reach ages of 40 to 80 years or more.
This paper presents the findings of a study on the deformation behaviour of earthfill embankments. It draws on a database of 54 case studies from mainly Australia, the United States and Europe. It is a component of a broader study on the deformation behaviour of embankment dams undertaken as a research project at University of New South Wales earlier this decade.
The data presented in this paper allows dam owners and their consultants to compare the deformation behaviour of their dam to the performance of other similar earthfill dams in evaluating dam safety. Typical patterns of deformation behaviour are presented and guidance is provided on identifying trends in deformation behaviour that are assessed as “abnormal” and that may be potentially indicative of marginal stability.