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.
Chriselyn Meneses, Simon Lang, Peter Hill, Mark Arnold
Risk is the product of likelihood and consequences. Much effort is put into the risk assessment process for large dams to ensure there is a consistent approach to estimating failure likelihoods across an owner’s portfolio. For example, the use of common peer review teams and methods like the ‘piping toolbox’ allow the risk assessment team to apply repeatable logic and processes when estimating failure likelihoods. However, the methods for estimating life safety consequences are often not applied consistently. This inconsistency leads to estimates of potential loss of life (PLL) that vary between dams in unexpected ways, because results from the most commonly applied method (Graham, 1999) are sensitive to threshold changes in flood severity and dam failure warning time.
The recently released Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM) is intended to supersede Graham (1999). RCEM varies fatality rates continuously with DV, and is therefore less sensitive to changes in flood severity. In this paper, estimates of PLL from RCEM are compared with results from Graham (1999) for five dams. Results from the latest US Army Corps of Engineers model for estimating the consequences of dam failure (HEC-FIA 3.0) are also compared with RCEM and Graham (1999) for one dam. Comment is then made about the important considerations for applying RCEM consistently across a portfolio of dams.
Keywords: potential loss of life, dam safety, risk analysis
Michael McKay and Francisco Lopez
Mt Bold Dam impounds the largest reservoir in South Australia. The dam wall comprises 19 concrete monoliths, 11 forming a central arch section and 8 forming gravity sections on the left and right abutments. The upstream face of the arch section is vertical, but the top portion overhangs on the reservoir side. The dam was originally constructed in the 1930s, and was raised by 4.3 m in the 1960s. In this upgrade the gravity abutments were raised using mass concrete blocks and the arch non-overflow crest was raised with hollow, reinforced concrete portals. On the spillway section a pier and gate system was installed on top of a hollow ogee section. The maximum height of the dam in its current configuration is 58 m.
GHD has been conducting a staged safety review of Mt Bold Dam since 2011. This included a detailed finite element nonlinear, time-history seismic analysis of the dam-foundation-reservoir system. The analysis was carried out using finite element techniques and included a detailed 3D model of all major components of the dam and different domains of the foundation rock. The nonlinearity of the model was included by explicitly incorporating contact elements at the dam-foundation interface, at the monolith contraction joints, and at some identified unbonded horizontal concrete lift joints within the dam wall. The seismic analysis was conducted for three different accelerograms corresponding to Maximum Design Earthquakes (MDEs) with 1 in 10,000 Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP).
This paper explains the purpose of the study, the adopted methodology and material properties, the results of the modelling phases, and the anticipated seismic behaviour and damage on the main components of the dam resulting from the MDEs. Finally, a conclusion is made in regards to whether or not Mt Bold Dam passes the adopted performance criteria for seismic loading.
Keywords: Arch, gravity, seismic, nonlinear, damage prediction.
Vicki-Ann Dimas, Wayne Peck, Gary Gibson and Russell Cuthbertson
Globally, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS) is a phenomenon sometimes observed in newly constructed large dams worldwide, for over 50 years now. Over 95 sites have been identified to have caused RTS by the infilling of water reservoirs upon completion of their constructions worldwide. In Australia, there are seven confirmed sites with observed RTS phenomenon that are summarized by temporal and spatial means.
With almost 40 years of seismic monitoring, primarily within eastern Australia, several of Australia’s largest dams have monitored and recorded many RTS events. At present, twelve dams are 100 metres and above in height as possible candidates, with seven of these actually causing RTS and a disputed possible eighth dam.
Important factors of RTS are reservoir characteristics (depth of the water column and reservoir volume), geological and tectonic features (how active nearby faults are and how close to the next cycle of stress release they are temporally) and ground water pore pressure (decrease in pore volume under compaction of weight of reservoir and diffusion of reservoir water through porous rock beneath). RTS is an adjustment process often delayed for several years after infilling of reservoir before eventually subsiding within 10 to 30 years, when seismic activity then returns to its prior state of stress.
Generally there are two type of RTS events, either a major fault near the reservoir most likely leading to an earthquake exceeding magnitude 5.0 to 6.0, or more commonly, a series of small shallow earthquakes.
Seismic monitoring of all dams (except for Ord River) are presented with spatial and temporal series of maps and cross sections, showing the largest earthquake, build-up and decay of RTS events.
Keywords: Seismic monitoring, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS), earthquake cycle
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
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.