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.
Lesa Delaere, Ivor Stuart, Thomas Ewing, David Marsh
As part of Wide Bay Water’s commitment to minimising environmental impacts of its water supply weirs, a “Nature Like” Fishway is under development for the Burrum No 1 Weir. This project is a fishway offset provision for the raising of Lenthalls Dam in the upper reaches of the Burrum River in Hervey Bay. The Burrum No 1 weir forms the primary pumping pool for the Hervey Bay water supply and is located at the tidal limit of the Burrum River. Understanding fish biology and behaviour is critical to the effectiveness of the design of a fishway as much as the balance between the goals of maximising fish passage versus cost, construction and operational difficulties that a fish passage solution may present.
This paper presents the aquatic ecology of the project and the inter-relationship of fish biology and river flow frequency. It discusses the fish species of the Burrum River, their behaviour, seasonal migration and criteria for successful passage. It presents the analysis of river flows with respect to frequency and headwater/tailwater relationships to weir drownout, which was complicated by the tidal flow regimes downstream of the weir. These aspects were also applied in consideration of river behaviour; low flow characteristics for fishway operation during dry seasons and drought, and high flow characteristics during the wet season and floods.
The biological needs for successful fish passage for two very different river flow characteristics were analysed. This allowed targeted design criteria and fishway solution to be developed to provide maximum benefit without causing undue cost to the project.
Burrum Weir Fishway – Fish Biology and River Flows: Two Faces
Rod Westmore, Andrew George& Robert Wilson
A 2007 risk assessment of Hume Dam concluded that the dam did not satisfy the ANCOLD societal risk criteria for existing dams. The Spillway Southern Junction (SSJ) and its associated failure modes was one of the main contributors to the risk profile.
Upgrade works at the SSJ involved the retro-installation of additional filter and drainage materials in the 40m high embankment immediately downstream of the tower block and central core wall by installation of more than 10,000m of secant caisson drilled columns backfilled with filter and/or drainage materials.
This paper describes the design and construction issues associated with the upgrade works, the equipment and methodologies developed to achieve the principal design objectives of coverage and connectivity of filter and drainage columns, and optimisation of compaction of the backfill materials. It also describes how these requirements were met whilst minimising adverse affects such as vertical deviation, excessive vibration, subsidence of secant filter columns during construction, and clay smearing of the perimeter of individual columns.
Hume Dam Spillway Southern Junction Filter and Drainage Works
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.
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