G.L. Vaschetti, C.A. Verani, J.W. Cowland
Geomembranes are an established technique for long-term waterproofing of hydraulic structures including all types of dams, canals, tunnels and reservoirs.
Three construction projects are presented that feature unique waterproofing solutions leading to faster construction programmes and granting safer and longer service life at lower costs: The 35 m high Paradise Dam (aka Burnett River), Australia’s largest volume Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) dam waterproofed using a PolyVinylChloride (PVC) geomembrane sandwiched between prefabricated concrete panels and the RCC itself; The 50 m high multipurpose Meander Dam in Tasmania, designed as a RCC dam of the low cementitious content type whose imperviousness is provided by a PVC geomembrane installed in exposed position and mechanically anchored to the upstream face of the dam; And the Eidsvold Weir, a 115 m long 15.45 m high RCC structure used for water supply, waterproofed using an external PVC waterstop installed on the upstream face and able to accommodate the expected movements at the joints.
The paper will outline the technical details, installation and performance of the geomembranes.
Advantages gained from the use of a geomembrane waterproofing system on RCC dams – experiences from Australia
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
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
Jim Walker, Sergio Vallesi, Neil Sutherland, Peter Amos, Tim Mills
The Tekapo Canal is a 26km long hydropower canal owned by Meridian Energy Ltd in New Zealand. Completed in 1976, the canal is 40m wide, 7m deep and has a capacity of 120m3/s. The canal was constructed from compacted local glacial soils with a compacted silt lining sourced from till deposits.
During 2007 and 2008 the canal showed signs of leakage where it crossed over a twin barrel culvert structure. In October 2008 a diver inspection identified depressions and sinkholes on the invert of the canal above the culvert. Approximately 6m3 of silty gravel lining material had settled. Testing showed direct and rapid connections between lining defects and seepage outflows at the culvert outlet headwall. Subsequent ground penetrating radar survey confirmed the presence of voids above the culvert barrels. Diver placed filling of the defects with granular materials was immediately implemented, and a series of remedial actions over the next four months were required to arrest deterioration and enable the canal to remain operational.
The paper describes the initial response to this situation and the immediate measures taken to prevent failure. It also describes the medium term and ongoing measures implemented to maintain the safety of the canal while permanent remediation requirements are assessed. The lessons learned from this event, and their impacts on Meridian’s Dam Safety Assurance Programme (DSAP) are also discussed.
Immediate response measures included ongoing filling of lining defects with filter gravel, intensive land based and diver surveillance of the canal, planning and resourcing for emergency contingency actions in the event that a risk of breach developed. Medium term measures included arresting leakage by placing a low permeability blanket of silty gravel over the damaged area using a concrete pump, and constructing external buttresses capable of safely withstanding large discharges should deterioration of the canal structure occur.
These short and medium term remedial measures were completed with the canal full and in operation and continue to perform well 20 months later. Continuing risk mitigation measures include enhanced surveillance and monitoring (land based and using divers), localised treatment of defects, as well as ongoing monitoring and review of the Dam Safety management regime and sustained Emergency Management preparedness.
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.
Jim Walker, Jamie Macgregor
The Pukaki Canal Inlet structure is a large gated culvert and stilling basin structure, it is a High PIC appurtenant structure to the Pukaki Dam, located in the Mackenzie Basin area of New Zealand’s South Island.
The 560m3/s capacity inlet structure is founded on glacial moraines. It controls flow from the178 km2 Lake Pukaki storage into the 80m wide, 22km long Pukaki/Ohau canal. It is the owner’s (Meridian Energy) most important valve, as it feeds 1550MW of hydro generation on the Waitaki River.
A risk assessment in late 2009 identified a previously unrecognised trigger for a potential failure mode for the stilling basin. Principally, ongoing erosion of the reinforced concrete base slab could lead to failure of water stops in the slab joints potentially leading to slab uplift, foundation erosion, and ultimately, catastrophic failure of the Pukaki Dam. To better define the risk to the structure, further inspection of the stilling basin was recommended.
A dewatered inspection of the stilling basin was required, as further dive inspections would not improve our understanding of structure condition. Because the stilling basin cannot be isolated from the canal, this requires dewatering the entire Pukaki/Ohau canal, presenting significant risks of damage to the canals from slumping and lining failure. A dewatered outage also has major business revenue impacts.
This paper describes how Meridian were able to take advantage of a transmission network outage, scheduled for just six days after the risk was identified, to plan, safely dewater, inspect, and rewater 22km of hydro canal, and not just to inspect the Pukaki Canal Inlet structure, but also to implement repairs to the stilling basin slab which have successfully mitigated the structure safety and operational risks. This huge undertaking involved mobilising an army of people, plant and materials, and cost over NZ$1.8m. From identifying the risk to the structure, to completing repairs took just 13 (very busy) days.
Lessons learned in the areas of dam safety and asset management are presented. As well as those contributing to the success of the project in seizing an opportunity to mitigate the identified dam safety and operational risks.