This paper discusses the common environmental issues and requirements project lenders have when financing hydropower dam projects in developing countries. The environmental specialist’s role, as part of the Lender’s Technical Advisor team, is discussed throughout the main phases of project finance (credit approval, financial close, lending/construction and loan repayment/operation). Further, how environmental issues are reviewed and monitored, thereby minimising reputational risks to the lenders are outlined.
Lenders typically consider hydropower dam financing, especially reservoir schemes, as high reputational risk loans. Finance is usually syndicated and although most international lenders are Equator Principles signatories or use the International Financing Corporations (IFC) Performance Standards, some lenders have additional environmental guidelines and requirements to enable financing. These differences are discussed.
Common environmental concerns include loss of habitat of endangered and/or threatened species, changes to river flows, erosion and sediment control during construction, and the minimisation and disposal of project wastes.
These issues are discussed drawing on the author’s experience in monitoring environmental issues of hydropower projects in Asia Pacific and Africa, including both smaller run-of-river schemes and larger storage reservoir projects.
Keywords: Environment, impacts, project financing, concerns, lenders, lenders technical advisor.
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Peyman Bozorgmehr, Sarah McComber, David Harrigan, Erik F R Bollaert
Boondooma Dam is a concrete-faced rockfill dam with an unlined, uncontrolled spillway chute. The Acceptable Flood Capacity of Boondooma Dam is 1:60,000 AEP (equal to the Dam Crest Flood (DCF) and has a maximum inflow of 14,330 m3/s.
Significant rainfall events during 2010/11 and 2013 subjected the spillway to moderate discharges over the crest which caused significant scour to the spillway chute.
Following these events, a 3D physical hydraulic model was constructed at a 1:80 scale to investigate repair options. Originally the spillway chute was modelled using a mobile bed set up which showed that that future scour could occur. However, the model could not determine the rate and characteristics of this damage.
In order to determine how future scour may occur, the 3D model was modified using laser survey mapping of the spillway chute after each flood event. Using milled aluminium and concrete capping the model was able to accurately portray the damage profile sustained by the spillway in the 2010/11 and 2013 flood events.
Transient pressure, static pressure, water elevation, velocity and jet measurements of the model were used in a Comprehensive Scour Model to help inform how damage to the chute may progress in future flood events.
Keywords: Boondooma Dam, flood damage, 3D physical hydraulic modelling, comprehensive scour assessment
Chahnimeh reservoirs with 1.4 billion cubic metres storage capacity have a critical role in water supply for both drinking water and agricultural purposes for the whole Sistan region in eastern Iran. Sistan river used to be the only source for agricultural purposes, so that several gated diversion weirs were constructed on the river in the past 50 years. Because of climate change and upstream development causing flow fluctuations, the river alone is no longer a reliable source for irrigation purposes. So the idea of storing water in Chahnimeh reservoirs and optimised operation of reservoirs have become a necessity. In order to achieve this, development of structures to have efficient operational plan of the river and reservoirs system is underway.
Several projects have been built for more efficient use of the reservoirs, some projects still being designed. One of the latest is the project of “Development of Operational Infrastructures for Chahnimeh Reservoirs” designing a structure to regulate flow between Chahnimeh I and III reservoirs. This kind of structure operating between two connecting reservoirs is so rare, so that innovation is needed to design a cost effective structure covering different operational conditions. Different structures were investigated and the summary of selection of structure types are presented. The paper illustrates challenging design of the project, useful for engineers who might be or will be dealing with such a project. By designing gates with pre-compressed rubber sealing, huge amount of costs associated with having two different gates for different directions of flow are avoided. Because of saturated foundation, by designing a diversion system between two reservoirs, it is possible to undertake pre-consolidation of foundation soil and to drain saturated foundation water. This would reduce settlement of the foundation of the structure after construction to the extent that by construction of a pile group, the gated structure will perform with high reliability for gates function. This type of structure is so rare and the methods and experiences of the presented design can be used by other engineers and consultants in similar projects. The estimated cost of the project is 15 million dollars and with construction under way, completion is expected in 2017.
Keywords: regulating structure, gates, reservoirs, reservoir operation
Paul Southcott, Tim Griggs & Jamie Campbell
Suma Park Dam is the principal water supply dam for the City of Orange in central NSW. The 30m high single curvature concrete arch dam has a High A consequence category and required an upgrade due to an inadequate spillway capacity. To maximise the benefits of this major capital works, the Council also sought to increase the storage capacity and modernise the outlet works to help supply the rapidly growing population of the city.
Challenges that needed to be overcome to develop an affordable and safe solution included: very high flood inflows; limited freeboard; a highly stressed arch with a narrow crest width; poor access to the toe and right abutment; and a saddle dam located on a deeply weathered foundation.
Innovations incorporated into the design of the works included: Monte-Carlo based modelling of the flood hydrology that better estimated the design inflows resulting in a significant reduction in flood upgrade requirements; precast parapet crest units that incorporated crest widening to improve constructability; an anchored toe block to ensure the toe of the arch is stable; an upgrade to the stilling basin; and an auxiliary spillway incorporating Fusegates at the saddle location designed only to operate in floods in excess of the 1;1,000 AEP event with minimal loss of storage.
Construction of the works is now well underway. A number of challenges have been overcome during the construction stage including a re-design of the auxiliary spillway to use Fusegates and discovery of Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) on site. Construction of the upgrade works is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
Keywords: Concrete arch dam, flood upgrade, pre-cast, fuse gates, anchoring.
Richard R. Davidson, P.E., CPEng Kenneth B. Hansen, P.E.
Early in the twentieth century, placing concrete core walls within embankment dams was a popular construction technique for small to medium height dams. It became in vogue as a replacement for the popular British dam construction technology of puddle clay core dams which were used between the 1860’s and 1920’s. It avoided the many problems with semi-hydraulic / manned placement methods of the puddle clay cores within narrow trenches. However, after the mid 1930’s this concrete core wall construction fell out of favour because of the improvements made in embankment compaction methods and the difficulties in building reinforced concrete core walls to more significant heights.
Today concrete core wall embankment dams are now reaching an age where their continued performance is being questioned. This dam building technology has become extinct and is unknown to the last few generations of dam engineers. Therefore, it is relevant to re-examine this dam building technology in a modern context and work on answering the following questions. How have these dams performed after almost a century of service? Are there unanticipated performance features that have produced positive results when subjected to extreme flood and seismic events? Does the concrete provide enhanced performance over time? What role does steel reinforcement play in the performance of the core wall? Are there lessons here that can be applied to the more common concrete cutoff wall solutions being applied to embankment dams with seepage problems? This paper examines these questions with a number of illustrative case histories to provide a retrospective illumination of this forgotten dam building technology.
Keywords: Embankment dams, Concrete core walls, Dam construction history.
Phillip Kennedy, Robert Murphy, Pat Russell, Chi Fai Wan
Central Highlands Water (CHW) owns thirty four dams varying significantly in size, age, and condition. Thirty of the dams are used for water supply purposes with the remainder providing storage for wastewater reuse schemes. Out of the thirty-four dams, eighteen are more than one hundred years old. They are zoned earthfill embankments, some with a puddle clay core. Fourteen of the dams have been assessed as having potentially high to extreme consequences if the dam fails. The key safety issues among these high consequence dams are inadequate flood capacity, slope instability, and high potential for piping.
CHW’s management policy includes a commitment to identify, assess, prioritise improvements to, and periodically review the safety of its dams, and implement a dam safety upgrade works program. CHW’s Water Plan 3 (2013 – 2018 economic regulatory period) includes nine dam safety upgrade projects, which were identified from risk assessments and investigations carried out over several years.
In 2013, CHW and MWH formed a Delivery and Operational Efficiency Review (DOER) Group to refine and confirm priorities for the proposed dam safety upgrades. The main objectives of the DOER Group were to identify solutions to meet current ANCOLD guidelines and any opportunities to achieve 10% – 20% reduction in capital expenditure costs during planning or delivery of the works for Water Plan 3, while achieving the intended risk reduction. The key elements of the DOER were to (1) form a working group to cover operational, planning and executive management considerations together with dam safety consultants and Victorian dam management experience; (2) closely scrutinise previous assessments; (3) challenge the justification for the project; (4) understand the priorities whilst aiming to deliver a major works program; and (5) identify additional investigations.
Initial investigations of the DOER Group developed a revised program of works allowing confirmed capital works to proceed while investigations into other projects were carried out. The follow-up investigations have identified optimal outcomes through a program of cost-effective solutions for CHW.
This paper aims to share the experience from planning the DOER, and the further investigations that resulted in the development of an optimised delivery strategy for the upgrade projects.
Keywords: Delivery and Operational Efficiency Review, Risk.