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.
Monique de Moel, Mark Arnold, Gamini Adikari
Monbulk Saddle Dam, built in 1929, is one of two saddle dams located at the southern end of Silvan Reservoir, near the township of Monbulk, Victoria. The saddle dam is a 5.3m high earthfill embankment with a 230mm wide, centrally located, concrete core wall. The reservoir retained is located in the valley of Stonyford Creek, and impounds approximately 40,500 ML of water at FSL.
Excessive seepage at the right abutment of Monbulk Saddle Dam has been an issue since the early 1970’s. The reservoir has been operating with a level restriction since then to reduce the seepage flows. However; this restriction limits the operational flexibility of the storage. Early investigations concluded that the most likely mechanism for these excessive seepage flows was a defect in the concrete core wall.
Melbourne Water Corporation, (the owner and the operator of the reservoir), undertook a risk assessment for Silvan Reservoir as part of a review of its dams asset portfolio. Based on the information then available, the risk assessment was undertaken using the criteria and guidelines developed by ANCOLD. The result was that the piping risks associated with the seepage from the west abutment at Monbulk Saddle Dam was unacceptable. The risk assessment Panel also cast doubt on the likelihood of the seepage being caused by a defect in the concrete core wall. Melbourne Water therefore engaged SMEC Australia to investigate the likely causes and mechanisms for this seepage and to develop suitable remedial measures for the dam.
The investigations have included a desktop review of historical information, test pit investigations, Sonic borehole drilling, dynamic cone penetration tests, an infrared thermal imaging investigation and an electromagnetic groundwater seepage flow mapping investigation.
These investigations have shown that the most likely cause of the seepage is the presence of permeable foundation layers located beneath and around the existing core wall as the core wall does not extend over the full length of the embankment and becomes shallower towards the abutments.
To satisfy the ALARP principle; risk reduction remedial works Concept Designs are being developed and reviewed.
2011 – Investigating the Piping Risk Associated with Seepage at Monbulk Saddle Dam of Silvan Reservoir, Victoria
Krey Price, Mike Harvey, Bob Mussetter, Stuart Trabant
The California Department of Water Resources, Division of Dam Safety (DWR-DSD), has determined that San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River in Monterey County, California, does not meet seismic safety standards. Several alternatives have been considered to decommission the dam and eliminate the hazard, including thickening of the 25-m-high, concrete arch structure, lowering the dam, and complete removal. At the present time, the upstream reservoir that had an original storage capacity of about 1.8 GL, is essentially filled with sediment. The 29-km reach of the Carmel River between the dam and the Pacific Ocean passes through urbanised areas within the upscale Carmel Valley; flooding and channel stability in these areas are significant concerns. The Carmel River also contains habitat for the endangered steelhead and red-legged frog that could be positively or negatively affected by the decommissioning.
After an extensive series of hydraulic and sediment transport modelling studies, two actions remain under consideration: (1) dam thickening, which will require reconstruction of the existing fish ladder and construction of an adjacent, 3-metre diameter sluice gate to prevent sediment build-up from blocking the ladder outlet, and (2) removal of the dam and rerouting the river into a tributary branch of the reservoir, which would isolate approximately 65 percent of the existing sediment deposits from future river flows and eliminate a significant fish-passage problem. Both options were modelled extensively in hydrologic, hydraulic, and sediment transport applications. Since available models do not adequately represent sediment dynamics at the sluice gate, a special sediment routing model was formulated to evaluate this aspect of Option 1. Option 2 is currently preferred by the resource agencies, since it would optimise endangered species habitat; however, this option would be three to four times more expensive than Option 1, and funding limitations may impact the alternative selection. Evaluation efforts are ongoing, along with approaches to address liability issues associated with the decommissioning actions for the privately owned facility, while optimising the benefits and costs of the selected action.
Modelling Studies to Design and Assess Decommissioning Actions for a Seismically Unsafe, Concrete Arch Dam
Conrad Ginther, Colleen Stratford
The Wyaralong Dam Alliance (WDA), a consortium of seven engineering and contracting companies, was contracted to design and construct the Wyaralong Dam, which impounds the Teviot Brook 14 km from Beaudesert in Queensland, Australia. The dam is an approximately 500 metre long, 48 metre high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) structure built on a foundation generally consisting of massive sandstone with intermittent conglomerate zones consisting of cemented gravels, mudclasts and sands. Geologic features of note with regard to dam stability and long term seepage at the site are dominated by downstream sloping bedding features and conglomerate zones. In addition to the bedding-related features, two predominant vertical to subvertical fracture sets exist. The condition of the vertical fractures ranges from tight and fresh at depth to highly weathered and filled with dispersive clay and gravels near the foundation surface. To provide a durable and effective long term seepage barrier for the dam, an extensive foundation cleaning and treatment operation was undertaken. This comprised drilling, blasting, and excavation of the majority of the highly weathered rock and dispersive materials supplemented by localized installation of small cut-offs and dental concrete and the construction of a double-line grout curtain installed using real time computer monitoring, the GIN methodology, and balanced, stable grout mixes.
Foundation Preparation and Seepage Barrier Installation at Wyaralong Dam Construction Project
Mark Locke and Scott Kindred
The Bulk Water Alliance (BWA) consisting of ACTEW and ACTEW-AGL, GHD, and John Holland / Abigroup, are delivering the Enlarged Cotter Dam project in Canberra, ACT. The greatly enlarged reservoir will require two central core rockfill saddle dams on a ridge adjacent to the main dam site. Construction of these two dams was completed in early 2011. The challenges of the site and the Alliance delivery model have provided opportunities for innovation in both use of materials and construction.
The dam foundations were variably weathered and fractured with some highly weathered seams extending below the cutoff trench foundation. The foundation was grouted effectively using GIN grouting and the entire cutoff trench was shotcreted to reduce the risk of piping of the dispersive core material.
The steep topography provided very limited sources of material suitable for a dam core. Potential contingency plans considered included bentonite enrichment of the low plasticity materials or a change to a concrete faced rockfill dam. The high cost of these options drove the decision to use the available residual soils from small gullies by selectively winning material with a higher fines content for use below full supply level. The lack of room on the ridge for stockpiling and conditioning of clays lead to trialling of a continuous mixer for mixing and conditioning the core which was found to be highly successful.
Filter materials were crushed sands and gravels produced from nearby commercial quarries. The materials and grading were generally high quality, with some challenges producing coarser filter materials by blending available aggregate products. A range of options were effectively adopted for placement of the filters including loader placement, trench boxes and spreading from a modified ejector dump truck.
Enlarged Cotter Dam Saddle Dams – Materials and Construction