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.
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
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.
Rick W. Schultz P.E.
The Corps of Engineers Risk Management Center is undergoing a nationwide assessment of its navigation and flood control projects. Development of the methodology and tools used to determine probability of failure of mechanical and electrical systems for dams is being presented in this document. Development of the Weibull formulas for specific use in dam will be addressed along with use of fault tree analysis to determine system reliability.
Keywords: Dormant-Weibull Formula, Fault Tree, Characteristic Life of Components, Beta Shape Parameters, Inspection intervals.
After a period of drought for many years, inflows during May and June 2009 resulted in releases from North Pine Dam. These releases resulted in deaths of fish downstream of the dam wall including lungfish. The Australian Lungfish is a protected species under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Australian Government). The events of 2009 have shown, however, that a proactive response supported by sound knowledge is required to minimise lungfish losses from flood events and other dam operations activities. A framework has been developed for the management of lungfish populations in Seqwater storages. The framework centres on a Seqwater Fish Management Policy, and four broad strategies that are considered necessary for addressing fish management in Seqwater storages: Fish Management, Storage Operations, Communication, and Research. These strategies are being used as a basis for identifying, planning and managing a range of actions designed to ensure that impacts to lungfish are minimised. Seqwater intends to develop the framework further to include long term management initiatives such as implementing viable technologies for preventing lungfish strandings, habitat protection and restoration activities that support viable lungfish populations, as well as establishing priorities for managing risks to other aquatic vertebrates in Seqwater storages, including other protected species, recreationally and commercially important species; e.g. turtles , carp, mullet, etc.
David Ryan, Sean Fleming
The Connors River Dam and Pipeline Project comprises the construction of a 367,540 ML storage on the Connors River located in central Queensland and a 130 km pipeline capable of delivering annually 49,500 ML of high priority water to the rapidly expanding Central Queensland Coalfields. The dam also has the capacity to supply water for the downstream agricultural sector.
Key outcomes of SunWater’s recent business case investigations included the identification of a strategy that would deliver the project in parallel with the construction programs currently being developed by the coal mining sector, the delivery of a quality product with high certainty cost and the ability to supply water at a commercially attractive rate. Construction activity is currently scheduled to commence in mid 2011, with commissioning of the works early 2014.
The paper outlines the project details, the design features of the dam and pipeline and the contract strategy adopted in an attempt to deliver the project on time and within budget.
Keywords: Roller Compacted Concrete, Early Contractor Involvement, Design and Construction.