A. Scuero, G. Vaschetti, J. Cowland, B. Cai , L. Xuan
Nam Ou VI rockfill dam is part of the Nam Ou VI Hydropower Project under construction in Laos. The scheme includes an 88 metres high rockfill dam, designed as a Geomembrane Face Rockfill Dam (GFRD), which when completed will be the highest GFRD in Laos. The only element providing watertightness to the dam is an exposed composite PVC geomembrane, installed according to an innovative design now being increasingly adopted to construct safe rockfill dams at lower costs. The same system will shortly be installed on a water retaining embankment for a coal mine in NSW, Australia, and has been approved for a tailings dam in Queensland, Australia. At Nam Ou VI the geomembrane system is being installed in three separate stages, following construction of the dam. The first two stages have been completed, and the last stage will start in November 2015. The paper, after a brief discussion of the adopted system’s concept, advantages and precedents, focuses on the construction aspects.
Keywords: GFRD, PVC geomembrane, waterproofing, rockfill dam.
Gavan Hunter, Andrew Pattle and Mark Foster
A piping incident occurred during first filling of Rowallan Dam, Tasmania in 1968. The incident occurred at the interface of the embankment with the spillway wall, a 15 m high near vertical wall, where the contact earthfill eroded into the single stage downstream filter. Repairs were undertaken in 1968/1969 and the reservoir has operated largely without incident since.
A risk assessment in 2009 identified that piping through the embankment at the spillway wall interface remained a significant dam safety risk. Investigations in 2010 encountered cracking within the earthfill core at the spillway wall interface.
Dam safety upgrade works were undertaken in 2014/15 to address the piping failure mode at the spillway walls and also within the upper portion of the embankment. The works required excavation down to a rock foundation at depths up to 18 m adjacent to the spillway walls and this excavation provided an unusual opportunity to closely examine active piping features that had been preserved when interim repairs in 1968/69 had arrested the progression of piping. The repair comprised reconstruction of a significant portion of the embankment at the spillway and the reconstruction of the upper 7 m of the crest, which included dual filters downstream of the earthfill core.
The findings from the forensic investigations of the deep excavations adjacent to the right spillway wall are described in this paper along with a summary of finding from the 1968/69 repair works and a discussion of the piping mechanism at the spillway wall. The paper also covers the design and construction of the repair work. The focus of this paper is on advancements in our understanding of piping risk arising from the Rowallan Dam work.
In conclusion, (i) the upgrade works successfully reduced the dam safety risk of Rowallan Dam; (ii) the findings support the methodologies of the piping toolbox; (iii) the case study provides insight into filtering and crack filling mechanisms that have a broader implication for estimating the risks of internal erosion within existing dams; and (iv) the findings support the assessment of the low residual risks for piping through the embankment away from the upgrade work areas (crest reconstruction and spillway walls).
Keywords: Earth and rockfill embankment, piping incident, piping mechanism, dam safety upgrade.
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
Since their development, rock mass classification systems have used and manipulated various populations of geomechanical data to allow a rock mass to be divided into different domains or engineering ‘masses’ with the aim of assisting in the geotechnical design of underground openings, excavations, foundations and ground support systems.
Each of these methods consider different characteristics to generate a material classification; including rock strength, joint weathering, defect spacing, in-situ stress and groundwater. However, none of these systems cater for classification of the rock mass based on whole rock weathering, whole rock strength and incipient defect spacing along a borehole.
This new classification system, the Rock Condition Number (RCN), has been developed to reduce the human factor of variability in interpretation when collecting data to classify the rock mass, as other methods, such as Rock Quality Designation (RQD), are prone to significant variability based on the experience of the person logging the core. RQD provides an indication of rock quality over the length of the cored interval, which varies depending on the drilling equipment and ground conditions. This value may typically be calculated over an interval of 1.0, 1.5 or 3.0 metres. The RQD system does not allow for the rapid identification of thin, though important features in the subsurface.
Using data captured electronically in the field, the RCN calculates an instantaneous classification of the rock mass at any point along the borehole, highlighting variations within the rock mass by assessing a combination of characteristics, allowing rapid identification of potential hazardous zones within the rock mass. This allows for significant improvements in efficiency during the assessment and design process/es. Resolution is greatly improved over RQD, with thin, though important, zones of weak material highlighted using this new process.
Comparison between existing classifications and the RCN using real field data indicates the RCN provides greater resolution when identifying deficient zones within the rock mass.
Keywords: Rock mass characterisation, RQD, Rock Condition Number, rock quality, dam foundations.
Jason Fowler, Robert Wark
Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) currently (2015) leases Arthur Creek Dam from the West Australian state government and utilises the water source to drip irrigate its Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) plantation. Arthur Creek Dam is located approximately 70 km south west of Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. TFS grows and processes the sandalwood to produce oil that is used extensively in the global fragrance perfume market. TFS took over the lease of the 26 m high zoned earth core and rock fill dam in 2007 and has systematically carried out remedial works to the structure to lower the f-N curve below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability” and to well within the ALARP zone. This paper describes the proactive risk management approach TFS has undertaken to address dam safety issues. It also specifically describes the most recent management issue, being the outlet pipe refurbishment.
A number of dam safety issues were identified during the initial surveillance and subsequent annual surveillance inspections. Issues include insufficient spillway capacity, seepage from the right abutment and deterioration of the steel outlet pipe. The remedial works to the outlet pipe were completed in late 2014 and involved close collaboration between TFS, the contractor and the designer. The outlet pipe re-sleeving operation was complex as the dam had to remain in operation and the water level could not be artificially lowered. In addition, the original outlet pipe was asymmetrical along both the vertical and horizontal axes, close to the bulkhead gate structure. Contingency measures were employed to enable the dam to remain in operation with 3 DN 400 HDPE siphon pipes installed.
The completion of the refurbishment of the outlet pipe by sleeving the pipe reduced the risk posed by this structure by an order of magnitude. Planned future risk reduction measures include the treatment of seepage within the upper right abutment and rebuilding the crest. These actions will further reduce the risk of dam failure through piping and overtopping of the dam crest.
Keywords: risk, ALARP, outlet pipe, re-sleeving.
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.