Richard R. Davidson, Michael Zoccola, Barney Davis, John W. France
Seepage barriers have become an essential element of dam safety upgrades for many aging dams. Our construction technical specifications are generally written to achieve a degree of perfection that may not be possible or practical. Many practitioners believe that grouting alone can achieve an acceptable seepage barrier through a pervious rock foundation. However, precedent from many Corps of Engineers dams has revealed that grouting can only treat those open features that the grout holes intersect. What about clay filled fractures or solution features that resist grout penetration but then erode over time? Can any grout treatment ever be considered as a permanent seepage barrier? Cutoff walls through embankment dams and their foundations are generally considered as a more permanent seepage barrier. However, do we have the means to construct a perfect seepage barrier wall, or are defects to be expected. Do these defects represent fundamental flaws that require risk mitigation? How can we verify that we have built an acceptable seepage barrier that meets the design intent?
Bruce Brown, Mark Coghill
Tailings management practices have evolved significantly over the last 30 to 40 years with emphasis on long term geotechnical and geochemical stability to meet community expectations and company liabilities. The main drivers have been environmental protection both during operations and post closure, public safety and water conservation. Mining companies have become aware of the significant risks resulting from the operation of tailings facilities with a number of high profile failures occurring in recent times. The common practice of building a containment structure and depositing tailings as unthickened slurry is being challenged and tested against alternative tailings treatment technologies. These include high rate thickening, paste thickening and filtration. The potential benefits of these technologies include significant reduction in process water losses, reduced design duties for the confinement structures and improved conditions for closure. Notwithstanding these potential benefits, very few facilities have implemented the new technologies due to economic constraints imposed by the evaluation methods used by the mining industry. This paper summarises the available tailings treatment technologies and the resulting implications for tailings facility design. It reviews the benefits and critiques the economic evaluation method currently in use and recommends that the industry changes its evaluation methodology to drive future trends.
Tailings Storage, Current and Future Trends
Kirsty Carroll, Kelly Maslin, Richard Rodd
Melbourne Water manages over 210 retarding basins across Greater Melbourne ranging in size from 4ML to 4700 ML with embankment heights from 0.3m to 10m. Over the years the basins have been designed and constructed by a range of different owners and authorities. Varying design and construction standards with the majority of retarding basins generally being located in highly urbanised areas, has resulted in Melbourne Water having a large portfolio of assets that have potential to pose a significant risk to the downstream communities they are designed to protect.
High level hazard category assessments completed over the last10 years identified that approximately 90 structures were either High or Extreme hazard categories based on the ANCOLD Guidelines on Assessment of the Consequences of Dam Failure.
In an attempt to identify retarding basins requiring priority consideration for remedial works Melbourne Water embarked on a process of completing a dam safety risk assessment for five of the retarding basins in accordance with the ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment. The objective of the risk assessment was to develop an understanding of the key risk issues that might affect retarding basins as distinct from water supply storages, identify potential remedial works and develop a prioritised risk management strategy for the five basins considered. In completing the risk assessment there was also significant discussion about ways to streamline the process to allow assessment of the remaining basins.
This paper details the results obtained from the risk assessment, investigates the application of the base safety condition and implementation of a risk management strategy. It also looks at similarities between sites to enable common upgrades to be implemented across the range of retarding basins. This paper also discusses the need for guidelines specific to retarding basins to be developed.
How do you solve a problem like retarding basins? An asset owner’s perspective
G. Hadzilacos, ML. Ng, K. Taske, A. Small and B. Loney
Alteration of flow patterns by constructing a dam may have an irreversible impact on ecosystems depending on the timing, duration and frequency of these flows. As part of an Environmental Impact Study, carried out for a proposed mining operation in Australia that included an earth dam on a pristine ephemeral creek, an appropriate waterway management scheme was proposed that required the establishment of measurable instream flow requirements. This paper describes an environmental flow analysis (EFA) carried out to identify flow regimes that achieve the desired ecological outcomes for the affected waterways. The EFA methodology was based on the range-of-variability approach using a calibrated rainfall-runoff model to form the hydrologic basis. The study established a relationship between flow components and ecological variables based upon which the flow requirements were estimated using a simple methodology.
2011 – A case study of an initial Environmental Flows Assessment for an earth dam on a pristine stream in Cape York
Susan Ryanand Siraj Perera
This paper describes the benefits of the statewide risk reporting framework used in dam safety regulation in Victoria and its ongoing development. Key to this approach is a web-hosted reporting system and benchmarking process, established by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in collaboration with the Victorian water industry. This is the first time that such an approach has been used in Australia for publicly owned dams.
Sector-wide reporting on dam safety is central to the objective-based approach used by the Department in the governance and regulation of the water industry. Water corporations submit detailed annual reports on dam safety status. This incorporates ‘self assessment’ against performance criteria based on ANCOLD risk and dam safety management guidelines. These are collated to produce a statewide report of industry-wide results on the progress of dam safety management programs. This benchmarking process is providing a driver for on-going improvement and proving to be an effective tool for regulation of publicly owned dams.
The reporting framework has significantly advanced the understanding of dam safety risk across the water sector, with outputs easily understood by both dam safety practitioners and decision makers. It has improved monitoring and trend analysis of risk management practices, and is informing policy development on demonstration of the ALARP principle and decision-making about appropriate long-term dam safety levels.