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.
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.
Nikifor Petrovic, Sladoljub Pezerovic
Dam rehabilitation works at the Visegrad Hydropower Project on the River Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina were completed in October 2014 after two years of very challenging and collaborative effort between the client, designer and contractor.
The successfully accomplished remedial works programme was a highly complex geotechnical intervention. The dam was constructed on a karst foundation extending up to 200 m below reservoir floor level. Rates of seepage through the foundation increased over time, from 1.4 m3/s following first impoundment in 1989, to 14.7 m3/s in 2009.
The rehabilitation works comprised:
Preparatory works (site installation, work platforms, conveyer belts, electricity and water supply, drilling and grouting equipment installation);
Site investigation works (drilling of boreholes, measurements of inclination, geo-physical carotage, downhole video, underwater camera recording);
Installation of monitoring equipment and implementation of real time recording system;
Installation of inert material into a sinkhole within the storage area and into the bore holes located upstream of the dam; and
Grouting of the foundation area using different grout mixes and grouting methods.
During rehabilitation works the main achievements were:
A total of about 37,300 m3 of inert material (granular materials with different fractions from 0 to 32 mm) was installed into the foundation cracks and caverns. This was a significant achievement due to very complex geological conditions and resulted in a seepage reduction through the foundation and improvement of the overall safety and stability of the dam.
The total consumption of grouting material was in access of 2,500 tonnes of cement, bentonite, sand and additives.
After completion of the work, seepage of water through the foundation was reduced to about 4.5 m3/s.
Keywords: Seepage, remedial works, dam, grouting, inert material.
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.
P C Blersch, W van Wyk , R Steenkamp
Construction of the partially completed Calueque Dam on the Cunene River in Angola was abandoned in 1976 due to the hostilities in Angola. In 1988 the dam was bombed, causing significant damage to the bridge deck, other structures and equipment. Work to complete and rehabilitate the dam commenced in late 2012 and included major earthworks, extensive concrete repairs and refurbishment and installation of mechanical equipment, including ten spillway radial gates and two outlet gates with lifting equipment, emergency gates and cranes, including electrical and control systems. A number of challenges were encountered in planning and executing the project but were overcome largely as a result of detailed historical project information having been retained well beyond the norm and through the involvement of a key member of the original project team in the current project.
Keywords: Dam rehabilitation, radial gates, zoned earthfill embankment
Thomas Ewing, Marius Jonker & James Willey
The use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling techniques is gaining broad acceptance in the dams industry as an important design tool for hydraulic structures. This is particularly so in the earlier stages of analysis and design where the construction of physical models would be prohibitive on the basis of cost and time. Current CFD techniques allow users to produce a rapid evaluation of the existing conditions, which when coupled with the ability to quickly test an array of potential scenarios, enables the incorporation of innovative design solutions that may otherwise not have been considered during the design selection process prior to the advent of CFD capabilities.
Details of a recent case study are presented to illustrate the broad capabilities and benefits of CFD modelling techniques and their application in engineering analysis and design. The case study involves modelling of the Somerset Dam, a 50 m high concrete gravity dam with a gated overflow spillway including overtopping of the spillway bridge, gates and complex flow conditions in the abutment sections, which individually and collectively could not be accurately analysed with the traditional, simplified methods. The CFD study enabled an understanding of the hydraulic behaviour including discharge efficiency, jet impact loads on the gates and gate operating equipment and bridge structure; extent of potential erosion as a result of jet impingement on the abutments; loads on sluices and behaviour of the stilling basin. In addition to being a very large and complex model, the modelling involved several novel technical aspects.
The case study clearly highlights the benefits of the CFD modelling in understanding the complex hydraulic conditions and delivering cost effective solutions.
Keywords: Computational Fluid Dynamics, Somerset Dam.