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.
Keirnan Fowler, Peter Hill, Phillip Jordan, Rory Nathan, Kristen Sih
Although there are considerable uncertainties in the science of climate change, there is a growing recognition of the importance of the issue. Incorporation of climate change impacts is now required in policy guidance from several government authorities and it is prudent risk management to consider the effects of climate change in planning for water resource infrastructure, including assessment and design of dam upgrades. This paper describes the potential impact of climate change on extreme flood estimates and provides a case study for Dartmouth Dam in south-eastern Australia. Three inputs to flood estimation were considered according to the projected impact of climate change; namely design rainfalls, modelled losses and initial reservoir level. The relative influence of each of these factors is explored. Rainfall and losses had a similar (and opposite) influence on results and for this dam the reservoir level prior to the flood event had the largest influence on results. This case study demonstrates that the insights of climate modellers and hydrologists need to be integrated in order to provide defensible estimates of the impact of climate change in flood hydrology studies. Credible projections of changes in design rainfall intensities are required for the full range of exceedance probabilities across Australia.
Application of Available Climate Science to Assess the Impact of Climate Change on Spillway Adequacy
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
C.Johnson, D.Stephens, M.Arnold and N.Vitharana
As part of Melbourne Water’s dam safety upgrade program, emergency release capacity is being investigated at a number of dams. Recent work undertaken by the Water Resources Alliance (WRA) for Melbourne Water has highlighted the lack of current Australian guidelines for appropriate emergency release capacity. With no relevant ANCOLD Guidelines, current practice still references the 1990 USBR guidelines which relate the length of time to empty a reservoir to the hazard and risk associated with dam failure. As hazard category assessment criteria has been improved since and dam design and safety standards are more stringent, the applicability of the USBR criteria in today’s environment is under consideration.
With the prevailing climatic conditions requiring the augmentation of Melbourne’s water supplies, the Tarago Reservoir was recently brought back into service. However, the dam lacked adequate emergency and environmental release capacity, with this being critical to manage construction flood risk for a pending filter raising project. Through an analysis of recorded inflow data, it was evident the existing scour facility had insufficient capacity to handle the recorded inflows, and would not be able to maintain the reservoir at an appropriate level during the proposed works. The length of time to empty the reservoir for the existing scour facility and the preferred scour upgrade option were calculated and it was found that by providing a new 1200mm scour facility, USBR emptying times were met or exceeded. The enlarged outlet capacity was also required to meet the new environmental flow requirements for the dam.
The paper will review international guidelines, share the experience of several Australian water authorities in assigning emergency release capacity for their dams, and discuss the specific work undertaken to provide suitable emergency release capacity at Tarago Reservoir for Melbourne Water.
Rick Friedel, Len Murray, Gerrad Suter, James Penman, James Watt, Hendra Jitno
The Hidden Valley tailings storage facility (TSF) has set a new precedent in environmental management of tailings in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Modern mining in PNG arguably began with the development of Bougainville Copper in the late 1960s, and continued through to Ok Tedi, Porgera, Lihir, Misima (and others). These mines have proceeded with deep sea or riverine tailings deposition, rather than construction of a tailings dam to retain the mine waste within an impoundment; as is the practice throughout the majority of the mining industry.
The Hidden Valley TSF is comprised of two large earth and rock fill dams, raised by the downstream method. Starter dam construction was completed in 2009. At final height the Main Dam will be one of the highest tailings dams in the world. The dams are constructed of pit waste and therefore have the dual function of storing tailings and waste rock.
Construction of the starter dams and subsequent raises is complicated by conditions at the site. Water management was, and remains, the dominant issue. High rainfall, weak erosive soils, material availability, dense vegetation and remoteness of the site provide constant challenges to construction. The Observational Approach to construction was recommended by the designers and adopted by the mine operator. This involves a knowledgeable pre-assessment of what is likely to change and having contingency plans to deal with possible major issues. This approach allows changes to the design during construction so the “as-built” product is suited for the site, fit for purpose, and remains consistent with the overall intent of the design.
The TSF has been in operation since August 2009 and monitoring data of the structures has been collected during construction and operation. This data is reviewed to confirm design assumptions and assess dam performance.
Personnel involved with this project combined their experiences working in the PNG environment and dam building from other locations. This process led to close interaction between the mine operators, designers and construction teams. Team work and diligent construction practices were and will continue to be necessary to construct and operate the pioneering TSF in PNG.
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.