Simon Lang, Chriselyn Meneses, Kelly Maslin, Mark Arnold
It is now common practice for dam owners in Australia to take a risk based approach to managing the safety of their large dams. Some dam owners are also using risk based approaches to manage other significant assets. For example, Melbourne Water manage the safety of their retarding basins in a manner similar to their water supply dams.
Assessing the risks posed by retarding basins using methods developed for larger dams can raise challenges. For example, the Graham (1999) approach to estimating potential loss of life (PLL) is generally applied when estimating the consequences of dam failure. However, Graham (1999) may not be the most suitable model for estimating PLL downstream of structures with relatively low heights and storage volumes (e.g. retarding basins), given the characteristics of the case histories used to develop the method.
In this paper six potential methods for estimating PLL are tested on four retarding basins in Melbourne. The methods are Graham (1999), the new Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM), the UK risk assessment for reservoir safety (RARS) method, a spreadsheet application of HEC-FIA 3.0, and empirical methods developed by Jonkman (2007) and Jonkman et al. (2009). Results from the methods are compared, and comment is made about which is most suitable.
Keywords: potential loss of life, dam safety, risk analysis, retarding basins.
Giovanni De Cataldo
The ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management August 2003 were formulated to ensure that dam owners adopt a responsible approach towards the safe operation and maintenance of their dams.
Is it possible to safely, responsibly and acceptably work outside the regulatory Guidelines/Requirements?
The challenge for dam owners now and into the future in meeting stringent standards, is to cost effectively manage their assets within available financial constraints whilst minimising risks and maintaining acceptable levels of safety.
With the continuing drought and suppressed storage levels in most dams, the risk to downstream communities and to the environment from dam failure is significantly reduced.
Based on various studies, investigations, internal workshops and external “Expert Panel” reviews, this paper puts forward a case for a sound and responsible risk-based approach to routine visual and surveillance monitoring frequencies at varying storage levels for “Sunny Day” conditions and compares it against traditional ANCOLD standards which are based solely on consequences.
Keywords: State Water Corporation, ANCOLD guidelines, risk-based approach, dam safety, regulator.
Robert Fowden, Peter Allen, John McKenna
The Large Referable Farm Dam Assessment Program commenced in early 2006 after inspections identified a significant number of Queensland dams that were unknown to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and could potentially threaten life if they were to fail. The program is unique given the number of structures under consideration and is understood to be the first widespread, systematic search for dams with a population at risk in the world. The Dam Safety (Farm Dams) team has developed many original solutions to allow the majority of investigations to be undertaken in-house, thus minimising the potentially higher cost and timeframe issues associated with obtaining external engineering and surveying support.
Keywords: Queensland, dam safety, dam failure, regulation, farm dams, surveying, modelling
Gavan Hunter, Chris Chamberlain, Mark Foster
Hinze dam, an extreme hazard storage, is under the authority of Seqwater (Southeast Queensland) and is principle potable water storage supplying the Gold Coast. Hinze Dam Stage 3, presently under construction, involves raising the existing embankment almost 15m to a maximum height of 80m.
The foundation geology on the right abutment of the main embankment comprises of a deeply weathered sequence of greywacke and variably silicified greenstone and chert. The deeply (and variably) weathered soil profile below the right abutment of the existing embankment presented an unacceptable piping risk for the embankment in its existing condition. Contributing factors included: 1/ the highly erodible extremely weathered greywacke and presence of continuous defects in the weathered soil mass; 2/ the extremely weathered greenstone in direct contact with highly fractured, highly permeable silicified greenstone and chert bodies aligned normal to the dam axis which provide continuous seepage paths through the foundation.
Works were required as part of the Stage 3 raise to address the foundation piping risk. Significant issues for design included: 1/ the depth of weathering extended up to 25to 40m into the foundation.; 2/ extremely weathered and highly erodible greenstone was present below the right abutment of the embankment and extended down to the lower abutment some 50 to 60 m below the existing dam crest; 3/ the reservoir level could not be drawn down during construction and the probability it would be near full supply level during the works was high; and 4/ the variability of strength in the greenstone form soil to extremely high strength presented challenges for excavation.
The options assessed to address the piping risk included a plastic concrete cut-off wall and an upstream blanketing option. The plastic concrete cut-off wall (220m long and up to 50m deep) and deep filter trench was the selected option. The cut-off wall had been successfully completed ahead of time and below budget. The innovative design required excavation through earthfill core of the embankment under full reservoir level and use of a purpose built trench cutter (by Bauer Foundations Australia) for the variable excavation conditions.
Keywords: dam safety, piping, risk assessment, cut-off wall.
Gavan Hunter and Robin Fell
Earthfill embankments in Australia have been widely used in dam construction since the start of the 20th century replacing the older puddle type and concrete corewall embankment designs. Most Australian dam portfolios will have one or more of these embankment types. A key component to the dam safety assessment of these dams is understanding their deformation behaviour, in particular the assessment of the future performance of these structures as they now reach ages of 40 to 80 years or more.
This paper presents the findings of a study on the deformation behaviour of earthfill embankments. It draws on a database of 54 case studies from mainly Australia, the United States and Europe. It is a component of a broader study on the deformation behaviour of embankment dams undertaken as a research project at University of New South Wales earlier this decade.
The data presented in this paper allows dam owners and their consultants to compare the deformation behaviour of their dam to the performance of other similar earthfill dams in evaluating dam safety. Typical patterns of deformation behaviour are presented and guidance is provided on identifying trends in deformation behaviour that are assessed as “abnormal” and that may be potentially indicative of marginal stability.