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
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.
Jared Deible, John Osterle, Charles Weatherford, Tom Hollenkamp, Matt Frerking
The original rockfill dike, constructed in 1963 to form the Upper Reservoir at the Taum Sauk Pump Storage Project near Lesterville, MO failed on December 14, 2005. The Upper Reservoir has been completely rebuilt as a 2.83 million cubic yard (2.16 million cubic meters) Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam in compliance with FERC Regulations. The project is the largest RCC project constructed in the USA and is the first pumped storage project to utilize an RCC water retaining structure. The project is owned and operated by AmerenUE and consists of an Upper Reservoir and a Lower Reservoir connected by a vertical shaft, rock tunnel, and penstock. The Powerhouse has two pump-turbines with a total generation capacity of 450MW.
A refill plan was developed to monitor the performance of the dam during the first refill. Because it is a pumped storage project with no natural inflow, the reservoir level can be raised and lowered with reversible pump turbines. The refill plan includes hold points when the dam s performance will be assessed at eight reservoir levels. Monitoring of the performance of the dam is done through instrumentation readings and visual inspections. Inspections check for alignment changes, leakage, seepage, cracking, or any other unusual or changed conditions. Instrumentation monitored during the refill program includes piezometers, seepage weirs, survey monuments, and joint meters. The level control system for the project was also evaluated during the refill program. This paper summarizes the monitoring and inspections conducted during the refill and the performance of the dam during this period, and the performance of the dam during the initial period after the refill program.
Kristen Sih, Peter Hill, Susan Ryan, Siraj Perera
Although ANCOLD provides guidance on good dam safety practices, in Australia it is the State and Territory Governments’ role to protect the public from dam safety incidents and in many cases these jurisdictions have legally binding regulations in place that dam owners must adhere to. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the dam safety regulations currently in place for Australian states, as well as selected international jurisdictions. The limit of applicability of the regulations, number of dams regulated, content of the regulations and powers and responsibilities of the regulator are all compared. It was found that there is a large range within each of these categories with regulatory approaches varying from light-handed and objective based, to highly prescriptive. The extent to which risk management principles are used in the regulations for each jurisdiction has also been investigated. It was found that in jurisdictions where higher hazard category dams account for a higher proportion of dams being regulated, risk analysis is included in the regulations. Finally, the ANCOLD societal risk criteria and ALARP considerations have been compared and contrasted with those from international jurisdictions and other hazardous industries.
Richard Herweynen, Colleen Stratford
Assessing the potential for erosion of foundation rock downstream of a spillway is a problem faced on many dams, whether new or existing. The problem is made particularly difficult not only due to the uncertainty in determining the erosion potential of the rock, but also due to the variable hydrologic characteristics of flood events.
The selected spillway option for Wyaralong Dam comprises a centrally located primary spillway with a secondary spillway located on the left abutment. A stilling basin energy dissipater is provided at the toe of the primary spillway. Downstream of the secondary spillway, an apron channel will direct flows back to the stilling basin. However, for flood events larger than the 1 in 2000 AEP event, the capacity of the secondary spillway apron is exceeded and flows spill out across the left abutment of the dam towards the river channel. Erosion of this left abutment was viewed to be a potential dam safety issue, and as such, careful consideration was required during the design stage to determine the acceptability of this spillway arrangement.
In order to provide structure to a problem which often relies solely on engineering judgment, a decision process was developed, taking into consideration some of the more definable aspects of the problem. These aspects included the geological characteristics, the initial hydraulic characteristics, the flood duration, the nature of erosion should it occur and the stability of the dam. This paper describes the decision process and methodology used at Wyaralong Dam to
determine the acceptability of erosion. This paper will present the process in a way that it can be used by others in future dam projects, both new and upgrades.
A Unique and Holistic Approach to the Erodibility Assessment of Dam Foundations
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.