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.
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Peter A Ballantine, Christopher V Seddon
Massingir Dam, constructed in the late 1970’s on the Olifants River in Mozambique, is a 48 m high zoned earthfill dam. Due to various safety concerns, the dam was operated at a reduced full supply level of 110 masl, compared to the design full supply level of 125 masl. Between 2004 and 2006 remedial works were undertaken, including the construction of a berm on the downstream face of the dam, grouting and drainage of the foundations and installation of the spillway crest gates. From December 2005 the storage level of the dam was allowed to increase.
On 22 May 2008, with the reservoir storage level at 122.43 masl and the gates on the outlet conduits closed, the reinforced concrete conduits failed at the downstream end, releasing an estimated 1,000 m3 /s of water into the Olifants River.
A 2-D finite element analysis was undertaken in order to establish the safe load bearing capacity of the as-constructed conduits. On the basis of the analysis, it was concluded that the original design did not take proper account of the pressure that would develop within the thick concrete sections of the conduit. In view of assumptions regarding the load paths, the reinforcement was not placed in the most appropriate positions.
This paper describes the events leading up to the failure of the conduit, presents the findings of the investigation into the failure and makes recommendations on the basis of the findings.
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
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
Karen Riddette, David Ho
Recent dam safety reviews of a number of Australian dams have identified that the arms of raised radial gates may be partially submerged by extreme flows which exceed the original design flood for the dam. Various design solutions have been proposed to secure and strengthen the radial gates, however an important concern is the potential for flow-induced vibration. Under extreme flood conditions, flows near the gate arms will be high-velocity, free-surface, with a steep angle of attack on the arm beams. Traditional hand calculations for computing vibrations are of limited applicability in this situation, and there is little published data available for this combination of flow conditions and arm geometry. A detailed study using CFD modelling of the potential for vibration around radial gate arms was carried out for Wyangala Dam. This paper presents the results of the validation and reveals some interesting flow patterns and vortex shedding behaviour.
Assessment of flow-induced vibration in radial gates during extreme flood
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.