Cat McConkey, Zarmina Nasir, Rachel Caoil
The Enlarged Cotter Dam (ECD) is the first major project to be assessed and approved under the new planning regime in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ACTEW chose the ECD as its highest priority option in securing Canberra’s water supply for the future because of its relative economic benefit to the community, reliability of water supply, technical feasibility and comparatively low environmental impact.
The planning and construction of large dams has been reduced from a typical 10 plus years to four years in the ACT and surrounds for the ECD. Australian and International Dam design and construction has significantly developed from a time when dam approvals focused on engineering, economics and constructability to now include regulatory planning processes that seek to reconcile environmental, social and economic impacts.
This paper explores and contrasts the experience of securing approvals for the ECD in 2009 to past experiences of dam planning approvals and consultation processes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.