Luke Toombes and Rob Ayre
Many large dams are built as multi-purpose structures, providing both flood mitigation and bulk water storage, but requiring a trade-off in functionality between those purposes. In response to the Millennium Drought (2001 to 2009) closely followed by devastating floods in 2011, the State of Queensland initiated a comprehensive review of the operation of its flood mitigation dams. Part of this study involved development of an Integrated Assessment Methodology to provide an informed and unbiased assessment of the competing factors affecting dam operations. The methodology assessed the primary variables of flood damage and other impacts, future bulk water infrastructure and water security requirements in the form of a net present cost/benefit. The study concluded that modification of the dam flood release strategy to reduce flood damage during large events would come at the expense of increased frequency of minor flooding, or vice versa, with minimal net benefit. Similarly, reducing bulk water storage to increase flood mitigation would increase water supply costs by a similar magnitude to the flood damage prevented.
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Kathryn Whalley and Bob Clark
When Seqwater was established in 2008 it inherited from local governments 51 weirs of varying ages, sizes, design standards and condition. In order to better understand these structures, in 2012 Seqwater engaged NSW Public Works to undertake a condition and risk assessment of its weir portfolio. The assessment, consisting of a background review, site inspections, stability assessment and a collaborative risk workshop, examined risks to the structures, to Seqwater personnel and the public. Assessment of the risk consequences used Seqwater’s recent experience with repairs to weirs damaged in the 2011 and 2013 Queensland floods. The assessment was completed in 2013 and identified more than 1000 risks. It was recommended that more than 600 moderate to high risks be reduced through a prioritised program over the next 10 years. Weir performance following the 2011 and 2013 floods is also discussed.
Robert Kingsland, Andy Noble and Dr Eric Lam
Engineering design is necessarily context specific. However, engineering design produced in industrialised nations often comes encumbered with design methods, standards and construction process familiarities that can result in inappropriate design solutions for developing nations. This is no more apparent than with the design of small hydropower projects where budgets are small and the implications of poor decisions can easily threaten the viability of schemes.
In this paper we explore the challenges and opportunities for the scheme’s developer and designer, in striking an appropriate balance on engineering solutions that remain appropriate for the local construction practices. In most cases, based on our experiences from small, run-of-river developments, the available methods for feasibility study data collection, including geotechnical investigations and hydrology assessments, are in themselves a challenge. Consequently, the designer needs to work with what is readily available and often has to reset the established thinking to incorporate practical constructability into the designs, while giving special attention to the operation and maintenance aspects. More labour-intensive methods are not uncommon.
The stakeholders in small hydropower schemes are many: the community, the approval agencies, the lenders, the developers, the local construction industry, the government. Design decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. However, designers are often distant from the social, political, environmental and commercial context of their project. This separation can present significant challenges which, without due attention, can result in poor design outcomes.
This paper will, with reference to examples of good and poor design, discuss various facets of small hydropower development from a civil engineering perspective including, the scale of development, design methods, stakeholder engagement, local content involvement, constructability and financing. The paper concludes with suggestions for improving design outcomes for small hydropower projects.
Michael Ashley and Robert Wark
The construction of service reservoirs has been an integral part of the development of water supply systems throughout Western Australia, and many such developments have occurred in coastal regions. The porous and highly soluble limestone foundations that are found in coastal regions pose specific challenges and risks for the long term management of these structures. Minimising leakage rates has been traditionally driven by economic losses. However, it has become apparent that the leakage has caused long term structural damage to the foundations of the structures.
Based on four case studies from south west Western Australia, this paper describes the extent of the problem, investigation and testing methods, design challenges and construction issues to be considered when constructing water storages on porous foundations.
Janice Green, Cathy Beesley, Cynthia The, Catherine Jolly
Design rainfall estimates are essential inputs to the design of infrastructure such as gutters, roofs, culverts, stormwater drains, flood mitigation levees and retarding basins. They are also integral to large dam spillway adequacy assessments undertaken to determine the flood magnitude that existing dams can safely withstand.
The previous design rainfall estimates for probabilities from the 1 year Average Recurrence Interval (ARI) to the 100 year ARI were derived by the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) in the early 1980s using a database comprising primarily of Bureau raingauges and techniques for statistical data analysis that were considered appropriate at the time. More recently, estimates of rare design rainfall estimates for probabilities from 100 year ARI to 2000 year ARI have been derived for each state, with the exception of the Northern Territory, using the CRC-FORGE method.
As part of the revision of the 1987 edition of Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A Guide to Flood Estimation being undertaken by Engineers Australia, the Bureau conducted a five year project to revise the design rainfall estimates for probabilities from 1 year ARI to 100 year ARI. The new design rainfall estimates are based on a greatly expanded database which incorporates data collected by organisations across Australia. These data have been analysed using contemporary statistical methods that are appropriate for Australian rainfall data. These new Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IFD) design rainfalls were released in July 2013.
Over the next 18 months, the Bureau will be deriving design rainfall estimates for probabilities more frequent than 1 year ARI and revising the existing estimates of the CRC-FORGE rare design rainfalls. The estimates for more frequent design rainfalls will replace the current ad hoc estimates that have been derived by organisations in the absence of other estimates. The revised rare design rainfall estimates will replace the current estimates that were derived on a state by state basis and which, for most states, are now in need of revision as a result of the release of the new IFDs.
Dennis C. Green
Current good practice for risk management as represented in ANCOLD guidelines emphasises risk reduction beyond tolerable risk levels to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). Risk reduction reflected in key design parameters such as the spillway design flood is monitored on a quantitative basis, while the guidelines also draw attention to a number of non-quantifiable measures.
Recent work health and safety legislation in Australia does not at first appear to relate to dam safety, but it mandates elimination of risk, and, if that is not possible, then it mandates reduction of risk So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP). It is tempting to believe that this is equivalent to ANCOLD’s approach to ALARP, but the devil is in the detail of the legislation. This paper argues for a change to a more systematic presentation of recording of decisions on dam safety risk management, lest the legislation expose dam owners unwittingly to liability when they thought they were following good practice. In particular, the re-focussing of ANCOLD Guidelines to align more recognisably with the new legal paradigm, including preparation and adoption of a Safety Case, is recommended.