Awoonga Dam is the sole source of water for the City of Gladstone and the heavy industries in the region. The area’s distribution reservoirs hold little more than a day’s supply. Extended water supply disruption could have severe economic impacts.
The nine large valves in the inlet tower and river outlet of the dam cannot be inspected or maintained without shutting down the entire water abstraction system. Consequentially limited maintenance has been carried out in the 25 years since the valves were installed.
Recent Dam Safety inspections carried out for the dam owner, the Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB,) noted some deterioration of the valves and recommended that the valves should be removed, inspected and refurbished as necessary
GAWB was thus presented with a daunting challenge to refurbish valves at Awoonga Dam, as it was generally believed that their removal for refurbishment would not be possible within the time limitations imposed by the system and customer requirements.
In 2008 GAWB commissioned GHD to develop a strategy to refurbish the valves within a 12 hour shutdown period. The strategy proposed and adopted required a rigorous risk management approach and close collaboration between GAWB’s operational staff, two contractors and the consulting engineers. The work was successfully completed during 2011.
This paper discussed the strategies and processes developed and how the project planning, supervision and execution was driven by the risk management based approach. It also highlights some of the experiences and lessons learnt during the project.
2011 – Refurbishing Outlet Valves utilising Shutdown Periods
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Roger Vreugdenhil, Peter Hill, Siraj Perera, Susan Ryan
All Australian water authorities have in place dam safety programs that seek to ensure the ongoing safety and serviceability of their dams along with the benefits they secure for the wider community. Many have progressed multiple dam safety upgrades over the past decade and embraced risk assessment as a helpful tool in prioritising upgrade investment.
The ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment (2003) have been applied across the country and, coupled with State regulation, have supported dam owner efforts in reducing risks below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability”. However, it is generally acknowledged that in their current form, the ANCOLD guidelines provide limited guidance to dam owners for determining appropriate levels of risk reduction and timing of dam safety improvements. This has contributed to a range of guideline interpretations and inconsistency in subsequent dam safety investment decisions across Australia. Having achieved priority risk reduction, a number of owners are beginning to assess their dams against the ALARP principle, bringing dam safety investment within an owner’s portfolio into more direct competition with other important and urgent organisational investment decisions.
This paper outlines the outcomes of a recent study commissioned by the Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment into risk reduction principles and the application of ALARP by a number of Australian and international dam owners and regulators, hazardous industry owners and regulators, and the interaction of ALARP with whole-of-organisation investment. The paper highlights the study process and significant points of interest regarding risk reduction principles and current application of ALARP and some options for refinement and clarity.
Towards increased clarity in the application of ALARP
The large flood inundating areas of Brisbane and Ipswich along the lower Brisbane River below Wivenhoe Dam in January 2011 was extensively reported by the media. An independent Commission of Inquiry was formed soon after the flood with broad terms of reference including matters related to dam operations. Prior to the Inquiry hearings and findings, reporting in the media continued and made strong allegations of blame of the flood on dam operations. The media relied on limited expertise but the articles were portrayed and subsequently re-produced by other media outlets as ‘expert’ analyses. The author’s interpretation is that media claims were misleading and damaging to the public confidence in the role of dams for flood mitigation, and this damage occurred before official Inquiry findings were available.
A brief summary is presented of now publicly available credible reports on the flood event, and a summary is also presented of the key matters and allegations reported in the media related to the dam operations. An analysis and commentary of media reporting on the flood operations of the Wivenhoe Dam is presented in the context of time and people with reference to information and expertise available to the media, and media conduct in relation to fair public interest and professional practice.
Matters of importance for objective and informed knowledge of key technical matters in relation to operation of dams, dam safety, and the inevitable extremes of nature and floods are discussed. The paper then examines the roles and possible limitations of dams engineering professionals in relation to media reporting of such matters.
This paper solely focuses on matters of media examination of the floods and dam operations, and generally does not comment on technical matters that are in the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry.
2011 – January 2011 Brisbane River Floods and Examination by Media of the Dam Operations
Ben Hanslow and David Brett
The Blackman Dam is a 27 m high, zoned earthfill dam located upstream of the township of Tunbridge in the Tasmanian Midlands. The dam has an estimated storage capacity of 7300 ML and an assigned Hazard Rating of High C.
The Blackman Dam was constructed over the period November 2003 to September 2004. The dam supplies water for irrigation to farms in the area and potentially to the local towns of Tunbridge and Oatlands.
Filling of the Blackman Dam commenced in 2005. After substantial filling of the dam and following a heavy rain event, an area of seepage was noted on the far left abutment of the main embankment mid morning of Thursday 13th October 2005. The seepage was reported by the dam operators as being “garden hose flow”. By mid afternoon of that day, this had increased to “100 mm pipe flow” and discoloured. The Dam Safety Emergency Plan was activated.
This paper discusses lessons learnt and provides details on the implementation of the Dam Safety Emergency Plan and emergency actions taken to successfully avoid a breach of the dam wall. The paper also provides details on the geotechnical investigations that were carried out and factors contributing to the piping failure. Embankment repairs were successfully completed by mid 2010 and first filling of the Blackman Dam occurred in 2011.
Dan Forster, Murray Gillon
A robust and defensible dam surveillance process is considered to be the ‘front-line of defence’ in ensuring dams do not present an unacceptable risk to people, property and the environment. The concept of a ‘Quality Chain of Dam Surveillance’ describes the surveillance process as a multi-linked chain where each step in the process forms a critical link. Without rigorous attention given to quality assurance links in the chain can become tenuous or broken and thus compromise the integrity of the whole chain. Hydro Tasmania is currently re-engineering its existing surveillance process using the Quality Chain of Dam Surveillance as a basis.
This paper presents the concept of the quality chain and uses the Hydro Tasmania improvement initiative as an example application of the concept. The paper is intended to provide a fresh perspective on what is sometimes considered a stale topic and reinforces the need for a considered approach to dam surveillance.
2011 – The Quality Chain of Dam Surveillance
Mojtaba E. Kan and Hossein A. Taiebat
Abstract: The simplified procedures for evaluation of earthquake induced displacement in earth and rockfill dams are widely used in practice. These methods are simple, inexpensive, and substantially less time consuming as compared to complicated numerical approaches. They are especially recommended to be used as a screening tool, to identify embankments with marginal factor of safety, assuming that these methods always give conservative estimates of deformation. However recent studies show that application of these methods may not be conservative in some cases, especially when the tuning ratio of a dam is within a certain range. In this paper the fundamental theory behind the simplified methods is critically reviewed and practical guidelines are presented that can be used to identify cases where the simplified procedures may not be conservative.
2011 – Reliability of simplified methods for evaluation of earthquake-induced displacement in earth and rockfill dams