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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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.
Sarah McComber, Peyman Bozorgmehr
Boondooma Dam is a concrete-faced rockfill dam with an unlined, uncontrolled spillway chute. Construction was scheduled for completion in 1983; however a spill event occurred during the last stage.of construction Following this spill event an Erosion Control Structure (ECS) was built across the spillway chute to help mitigate any future scouring.
The spillway performed as expected during minor spill events in the 1990s and early 2000s. During the significant rainfall event of 2010/11, significant scour occurred to the spillway chute and downstream of the ECS, as a result of the spillway operation.
Following the 2010/11 flood, emergency repairs were made and long term repair solutions were investigated. However, during Tropical Cyclone Oswald in January 2013, the dam experienced the flood of record, and further scour occurred in the spillway chute.
The long term repair solution was reviewed in light of the 2013 damage. A solution is required that would satisfy the engineering problem and prevent further damage, while satisfying the commercial considerations faced by dam owners, insurers, customers and downstream stakeholders.
Keywords: Boondooma Dam, flood damage, scour damage, commercial engineering solutions.
Jiri Herza and John Phillips
The design of dams for mining projects requires processes and technology that are unfamiliar to many mine owners and managers. Dam designers rely on ANCOLD assessments of Consequence Category, commonly leading to a High rating for mining dams due to a combination of potential loss of life, impact on environment and damage to assets such as mine voids, process plants, workshops, offices, roads, railways etc.
From this High Consequence Category the relevant annual exceedance probabilities for design parameters and loading conditions such as earthquakes and floods are selected.
Mining companies have sophisticated methods available for assessing risk, yet for their assets they often adopt an order of magnitude lower security for earthquake and floods even though the consequences in terms of lives at risk and impact on project are similar.
The discrepancies in the design standards lead to situations where extreme dam loads are adopted to prevent damage and loss of life in assets that theoretically would have already collapsed under much lower loads.
One difference may be that some mining dams exist in an environment which is controlled by a single entity. Unlike other dams, failure of these mining dams would therefore impact only individuals and assets which fall under the responsibility of the same entity.
This paper discusses the discrepancies between the design of mining dams and the design of other mine infrastructure. The paper considers the impact of discrepancies on the overall risk to the mine and compares the degree of protection offered by a factor of safety and the influence of reliability of design input parameters, alternate load paths and design redundancy.
Keywords: Dams, tailings dams, mining, acceptable risk, factors of safety
Makeena Kiugu, Siraj Perera
Dam owners are influenced by drivers such as ensuring economic efficiency, achieving industry good practice, and meeting regulatory or due diligence obligations when making decisions on how to manage their dams. While these drivers can be inter-related, the decisions finally made by dam owners are reflected in planned and completed dam safety activities.
In Victoria, dam owners update the regulator on the status of their dam safety management programs every year. Victorian dam safety regulation is underpinned by risk management principles. Benchmarking of dam safety management practices is also promoted within the industry. The information provided to the regulator includes risk levels of dams, scheduled upgrades and associated cost estimates, interim risk reduction measures, and details of surveillance, emergency management and operation and maintenance programs. A considerable amount of information has been collected over the past few years allowing trends in dam safety management activities to be examined at a State-wide level.
This paper will consider how dam safety management decisions, and the drivers behind those decisions, are reflected in the dam safety practices of Victorian dam owners. Trends in dam safety activities will be observed and linkages made to prevailing industry-wide challenges.
Dam owners are increasingly being required to address a wider range of issues in an environment of limited resources. Ensuring due diligence and improving emergency preparedness are some current challenges facing dam owners. This paper also examines how these emerging drivers may influence dam safety activities into the future.
Keywords: Dam safety management
R. Nathan, P. Jordan, M. Scorah, S. Lang, G. Kuczera, M. Schaefer, E. Weinmann
This paper describes the development and application of two largely independent methods to estimate the annual exceedance probability (AEP) of Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP). One method is based on the Stochastic Storm Transposition (SST) approach, which combines the “arrival” and “transposition” probabilities of an extreme storm using the total probability theorem. The second method – termed “Stochastic Storm Regression”(SSR) – combines frequency curves of point rainfalls with regression estimates of areal rainfalls; the regression relationship is derived using local and transposed storms, and the final exceedance probabilities are derived using the total probability theorem. The methods are used to derive at-site estimates for two large catchments (with areas of 3550 km2 and 15280 km2) located in inland southern Australia. In addition, the SST approach is used to derive regional estimates for standardised catchments within the Inland GSAM region. Careful attention is given to the uncertainty and sensitivity of the estimates to underlying assumptions, and the results are compared to existing AR&R recommendations.
Keywords: Annual exceedance probability, Probable Maximum Precipitation.