Richard R. Davidson, Joergen Pilzand Bruce Brown
Recent earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand and Japan have created a new focus on the safe design of tailings dams in seismic regions of the world. Building sand and rockfill embankments to sustain large ground motions and provide crucial drainage of excess pore pressures remain daunting challenges at each site. Are conventional hydraulic deposition practices still viable? What new technologies can be considered? Addressing seismic stability of existing upstream method tailings dams whether currently in operation or closed is stretching our seismic geotechnical engineering profession to its limits of understanding of behaviour. Creating a safe, secure environmental storage must also be integrated with the geotechnical and hydrologic concerns. Is there a viable risk context to consider these competing issues? This paper will raise these issues within the international context and suggest a prudent path forward.
2011 – The Challenges of Building Tailings Dams in Seismic Regions
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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
Susan Ryanand Siraj Perera
This paper describes the benefits of the statewide risk reporting framework used in dam safety regulation in Victoria and its ongoing development. Key to this approach is a web-hosted reporting system and benchmarking process, established by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in collaboration with the Victorian water industry. This is the first time that such an approach has been used in Australia for publicly owned dams.
Sector-wide reporting on dam safety is central to the objective-based approach used by the Department in the governance and regulation of the water industry. Water corporations submit detailed annual reports on dam safety status. This incorporates ‘self assessment’ against performance criteria based on ANCOLD risk and dam safety management guidelines. These are collated to produce a statewide report of industry-wide results on the progress of dam safety management programs. This benchmarking process is providing a driver for on-going improvement and proving to be an effective tool for regulation of publicly owned dams.
The reporting framework has significantly advanced the understanding of dam safety risk across the water sector, with outputs easily understood by both dam safety practitioners and decision makers. It has improved monitoring and trend analysis of risk management practices, and is informing policy development on demonstration of the ALARP principle and decision-making about appropriate long-term dam safety levels.
David R Jeffery
In 2004 the Victorian Government announced the decision to proceed with Australia’s largest dam decommissioning project, the return of the 365,000ML capacity Lake Mokoan to a wetland.
The project has been completed and has resulted in significant river health benefits through liberating environmental flows in the Broken, Goulburn, Murray and Snowy Rivers. Decommissioning has allowed the recovery of water savings for return as environmental flow to the River Murray (30,000 ML/year) and Snowy River (21,000 ML/year).
With decommissioning complete, development of a significant wetland complex across the 8100 hectare site has commenced.
This project has been undertaken at a time when the Broken River basin was exposed to its worst drought conditions in over 100 years and within 11 years of the worst flooding experienced in the nearby Rural City of Benalla. These extremes of climatic conditions and their impacts on the local and irrigation communities have ensured considerable community and stakeholder interest in the decision to proceed with decommissioning and in the subsequent delivery of each of the project elements.
This paper provides an explanation of the drivers for the project, describes the process followed and some of the challenges experienced over the projects seven year life and presents some of the lessons learned along the way.
2011 – MOKOAN – RETURN TO WETLAND PROJECT
Krey Price, Mike Harvey, Bob Mussetter, Stuart Trabant
The California Department of Water Resources, Division of Dam Safety (DWR-DSD), has determined that San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River in Monterey County, California, does not meet seismic safety standards. Several alternatives have been considered to decommission the dam and eliminate the hazard, including thickening of the 25-m-high, concrete arch structure, lowering the dam, and complete removal. At the present time, the upstream reservoir that had an original storage capacity of about 1.8 GL, is essentially filled with sediment. The 29-km reach of the Carmel River between the dam and the Pacific Ocean passes through urbanised areas within the upscale Carmel Valley; flooding and channel stability in these areas are significant concerns. The Carmel River also contains habitat for the endangered steelhead and red-legged frog that could be positively or negatively affected by the decommissioning.
After an extensive series of hydraulic and sediment transport modelling studies, two actions remain under consideration: (1) dam thickening, which will require reconstruction of the existing fish ladder and construction of an adjacent, 3-metre diameter sluice gate to prevent sediment build-up from blocking the ladder outlet, and (2) removal of the dam and rerouting the river into a tributary branch of the reservoir, which would isolate approximately 65 percent of the existing sediment deposits from future river flows and eliminate a significant fish-passage problem. Both options were modelled extensively in hydrologic, hydraulic, and sediment transport applications. Since available models do not adequately represent sediment dynamics at the sluice gate, a special sediment routing model was formulated to evaluate this aspect of Option 1. Option 2 is currently preferred by the resource agencies, since it would optimise endangered species habitat; however, this option would be three to four times more expensive than Option 1, and funding limitations may impact the alternative selection. Evaluation efforts are ongoing, along with approaches to address liability issues associated with the decommissioning actions for the privately owned facility, while optimising the benefits and costs of the selected action.
Modelling Studies to Design and Assess Decommissioning Actions for a Seismically Unsafe, Concrete Arch Dam
Simon Lang, Chriselyn Meneses, Peter Hill, Kristen Sih
In Australia to date, the empirical method developed by Graham (1999) is the most widely applied approach for estimating loss of life from dambreak flooding. However, as the move to risk-based approaches of dam safety management has gathered momentum internationally, increasingly sophisticated techniques for estimating loss of life have emerged. One of these models is the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) HEC-FIA model. HEC-FIA models the influence of flooding, structure characteristics, and warning and evacuation assumptions on loss of life in a spatially distributed manner. In contrast to Graham (1999), HEC-FIA also allows the user to model the loss of life for both dambreak and natural flooding.
This paper presents the results from the first Australian application of HEC-FIA to two dams in southeast Australia. The application of empirical methods developed by Graham (2004) and Reiter (2001) is also discussed.