As the Panama Canal is upgraded to accommodate larger vessels, hydrological and ecological elements of the project are being closely monitored, along with the effects of the increased usage that is projected to accompany the upgrade when it opens to traffic in 2015. Each of the 14,000 ships that annually pass through the Panama Canal requires 200 ML of fresh water – drawn from Gatun Lake and other Chagres River reservoirs – to navigate through the locks. The reliability of a sustainable water supply is thus vital to the canal’s operation and, by extension, to the world’s economy.
Hydrologic, hydraulic, and sedimentation studies are providing baseline data for comparison with projected operational scenarios. Several projects are currently being undertaken to restore and protect the widely recognised and highly valued biodiversity within Gatun Lake’s catchment area. Efforts to promote biodiversity conservation during the construction and operation of the expansion project are being coordinated with the concurrent efforts of a variety of academic, scientific, and private institutions, including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, which is located on the largest island in Gatun Lake.
This paper examines the implications of growth and expansion on Gatun Dam and Lake. Current studies are assessing the impacts of deforestation on sedimentation and temporal flow distribution into Gatun Lake. Methodologies and results are presented for the USAID-funded Panama Canal Watershed Biodiversity Conservation Project, an undertaking that engages public and private sector partners in an effort to improve the management and conservation of critical areas through the implementation of sustainable practices and engagement of local stakeholders.
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Earthquake ground motions were developed for the Tekapo Canal Remediation Project, including both Canal and Bridge sites. This work involved the specifications of the parameters of active faults and seismic source zones, the development of an aftershock sequence, and the review and selection of suitable ground motion prediction equations. The seismic hazard at the project sites is dominated by earthquakes occurring on the Irishman Creek fault. The characteristics of an inferred active (unnamed) fault shown crossing the Tekapo Canal near Forks Stream and the hazard it poses to the canal were also assessed, and it was concluded that there was no need to further investigate it as part of the canal upgrade project. A probabilistic seismic hazard analysis was used to develop response spectra for mainshock events for the various return periods relevant to components of the canal system having different PIC categories. A deterministic seismic hazard analysis methodology was used to estimate the aftershock spectra. Depending on the PIC category, time histories were developed to represent the response spectrum for both mainshock and aftershock events at some canal sites.
Matthew Sentry and Darren Loidl
To triple Yass’ water storage capacity, Yass Valley Council was required to increase the height of their existing concrete weir by 3.0 m. The 100 m wide weir was originally constructed back in the 1920’s. Upgrade works to the weir included raising the height of the existing concrete weir by 3.0 m with reinforced concrete; install 33 number 27 strand post-tensioned ground anchors vertically into the crest; construct a new outlet structure; upgrade existing mechanical pipe works; and replace the existing pedestrian bridge with a concrete bridge capable of vehicle traffic.
The key project constraints during construction were to maintain constant water to the town’s water treatment plant and maintain minimum 70% reservoir storage.
The original weir had no auxiliary means of flow diversion and the construction constraints meant that the water storage could only be reduced by 1.0 m from the existing crest during construction, resulting in the construction work being carried out in an active water course with minimal means of flow diversion. These key project constraints meant that there was a high risk of flooding during construction work.
Geotechnical Engineering was engaged by Yass Valley Council to carry out the required upgrade work at Yass Dam. Prior to construction work commencing, risk workshops with client and designers clarified the flood risks during construction. To minimise the impact of flood events during construction, Geotech implemented several flood mitigation measures which were controlled by a detailed construction flood management plan. These control measures included construction of two temporary diversion slots cut into the existing concrete weir capable of supporting a 1 in 2 year rain event whilst allowing construction work to continue; re-design of concrete works to minimise the volume of concrete which was to be cut from the existing wall’s downstream face; detailed construction sequencing to minimise impact to existing and new wall during construction work; and the early installation and stressing of anchors.
Although a detailed construction flood management plan was developed and implemented, the Yass Dam site was impacted by 13 floods during the 20 month construction period. Several floods recorded water levels between 1.5 m and 1.9 m above the existing crest, resulting in work ceasing for weeks if not months at a time. As a result of the consistent flooding, Geotech was able to develop stronger and more resilient methods to be able to effectively work within an active watercourse on dam structures where minimal flow diversions are available. This paper presents the unique techniques implemented through the Yass Dam Upgrade project and discusses the effectiveness of these techniques and lessons learnt through the 13 flood events experienced.
Peter Mulvihill and Ian Walsh
The Falls Dam was constructed in the 1930’s to provide storage for several irrigation schemes in the Manuherikia Valley situated in New Zealand’s South Island region of Central Otago.
The opportunity to retrofit a small hydropower plant to the concrete faced rock fill dam was taken in 2003, utilising existing tunnels complemented by an innovative syphonic penstock system. The key design and construction features of this integrated scheme are described, along with experience from the first 10 years of the generation performance.
Looking ahead, there may be further integration challenges as current investigation of irrigation storage requirements leads to major redevelopment at this dam site and substantial changes to generation parameters.
Chris Topham, Eoin Nicholson and David Tanner
A number of Australian dams have spillways with reinforced concrete training walls designed in the 1950/60s to the standards of the day, but which could be considered under-designed according to modern criteria. Such walls commonly retain significant depths of earth and rockfill embankment materials, where structural failure of the wall could seriously compromise the safety of the dam. This paper presents the journey to mitigate the risk of such training walls, drawing primarily on experience in managing structurally deficient spillway training walls for a High Consequence Category dam in northern Tasmania. Reflections from each step of the risk management process are presented, including how the portfolio risk assessment contributed to a focus on the dam as a whole, and how that led to more detailed analysis and evaluation of the training wall risk. The use of instrumentation and enhanced surveillance for risk monitoring is discussed, including how real-time deformation data ultimately led to installation of temporary wall bracing works and enhanced contingency planning. The long-term risk treatment for the walls is presented, comprising a $6m structural upgrade to the training walls completed in 2013. The paper concludes with the learnings from the risk management journey and highlights the range of interventions available to owners with similar spillway training walls.
Tim Gillon and Grant Murray
Chelsea Estate is located on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour, and is only ten minutes drive from Auckland central business district. Within Chelsea Estate are four ‘low’ potential impact classification (PIC) dams, which cascade along Duck Creek. Three of the dams are over 100 years old and all dams were built from 1884 to 1917. The dams and the reservoirs have served, and continue to serve, several purposes including stormwater retention, recreational use and water supply for the adjacent sugar factory. In 2008 Auckland Council (AC) purchased the Chelsea Estate from the New Zealand Sugar Company (NZSC) and in 2009 the Estate was registered in the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT). This paper discusses the history and functionality of the multi-function Chelsea Estate dams, the development of the site and how it impacts our understanding of the dams today.
Keywords: Chelsea Estate, multi-function dams, heritage dams.