Steven E Pells, Philip J N Pells, William L. Peirson; Kurt Douglas and Robin Fell
The method of Annandale (1995) is widely used by Australian practitioners for the assessment of erosion in unlined spillways. This method is based on comparison to various case studies, where the geology at each site is characterised using the Kirsten index (a rock mass index previously developed to assess the rippability of rock), and the hydraulic conditions are characterised using the unit stream power dissipation. In this paper, the historical development of this comparative design technique is traced and is critically reviewed against the original geotechnical and hydraulic data, and against a new, independent, dataset gained from unlined spillways in fractured rock in Australia, South Africa and the USA. It is shown that, while erosion can be usefully correlated against rock-mass indices and hydraulic indices, this ‘comparative’ design technique has been promoted beyond its reach – the data do not support the inference of an erosion ‘threshold’ as presented by Annandale (1995). It is argued that this type of analysis should be used only as an initial ‘first indication of erosion potential’, as originally proposed by van Schalkwyk (1994b).
Keywords: scour; erosion; spillways.
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Mark Arnold, Chris Topham, Phil Cummins
A central tenet of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management (2003) is that the higher the consequence of failure of a dam, the more stringent the surveillance scope, frequency, and safety criteria that should be applied to that dam. This concept has generally served the industry well to date in assisting regulators and dam owners to focus on the dams that could have the highest impacts if they failed. ANCOLD 2003 does also suggest that risk may be taken into consideration, however it is the experience of the authors that for dam surveillance and monitoring programmes, the majority of owners and consultants are reluctant to stray too far from the tables provided in the Guideline. However, two owners have recently embarked on a formal process to apply a risk based approach to the specification of surveillance and monitoring for their dams. This paper outlines how sub-optimal outcomes that can arise when the guideline tables are applied exclusively, presents the process undertaken by two owners of large portfolios of high consequence dams, and demonstrates the benefits achieved when a risk based approach is used. The paper concludes that any update or rewrite of the 2003 Dam Safety Management Guidelines should promote a risk based, rather than a consequence based approach to surveillance and monitoring.
Keywords: Risk, risk-based surveillance programme, instrumentation, monitoring.
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.
Maree Dalakis, Dr Saman de Silva, Siraj Perera and Dr Gamini Adikari
This paper describes the results of a statistical and qualitative analysis on historical dam safety incidents in Victoria, the first study of its kind conducted in the State. The study investigates trends arising from qualitative dam safety incident data collected by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning since the year 1996. The reported incidents are categorised based on their severity and statistical trends are identified in relation to the types of incidents common to regulated and unregulated dams, as well as common responses to incidents, including their post-incident operation. The geographical distribution of incidents across the State is also analysed to determine the effects of seismicity on dam safety incident rates. Furthermore, the unique Victorian conditions of sustained drought and subsequent flooding and their impact on incident rates are investigated through the combined analysis of geographical incident distribution and streamflow data. The incident data is further assessed according to the frequency of visual inspection and reporting of the structures in order to gauge the relative influence of these practices, and dam regulation in general, on mitigating incident risk in dams. An understanding of dam safety incident trends and the impact of inspection and reporting practices is increasingly important given the increasing expectation for dam owners to properly operate and maintain their assets with minimal resources and finances.
Keywords: dam, safety, incident, historical, failure.
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.