There is increased pressure from stakeholders for projects to include evaluation of emerging broader development issues within the environmental assessment process. These emerging issues are not well documented or understood and at the forefront of untested preliminary government policy positions.
Agencies expect proponents to invest in evaluating these matters outside of typical assessment practices. Requests are made late in the evaluation and approval process.Assessmen involves matters not directly related to the project or within the proponent’s control and occurs late in the project development cycle.
The Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project (LFRIP) was identified through the Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Study in 2006, as a solution to secure future water supplies for the Rockhampton, Capricorn Coast and Gladstone regions. The Gladstone Area Water Board and SunWater Limited, as proponents, propose to raise the existing Eden Bann Weir and construct a new weir at Rookwood on the Fitzroy River in Central Queensland.
The LFRIP environmental impact statement (EIS) was approved, subject to conditions, by the Queensland Coordinator-General in December 2016 and the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Energy in February 2017. Achieving conditions that will realise positive environmental outcomes while simultaneously achieving project objectives, particularly with regard to timeframes and costs, was not without its challenges.
The EIS was developed in accordance with the requirements of the State Development Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) and the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including an extensive stakeholder consultation programme. These regulatory requirements are well understood and applied to projects as normal accepted practice. They ensured that potential project impacts and benefits were identified, that appropriate levels of effort were applied to investigations to establish baseline conditions and that risks to and impacts on environmental (including social and cultural) matters were adequately mitigated and managed.
The environment is not static. Emerging issues and perceptions results in regulation and policy changes in response to political and social drivers. During the development of the EIS both new legislation and new policies were imposed on the project.New legislation resulted in additional assessment around matters previously considered mitigated and managed (fish passage). New legislation introduced new matters for assessment (connectivity). Collaboration and engagement with stakeholders were key to understanding the applicability of these elements to the project and for developing an approach to address the legislative requirements late in the project’s development and assessment process.
In Queensland,policy is emerging to mitigate and manage impacts of development on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area’s universal values. The EIS was required to address the direct project impacts on water quality and the impacts arising because of the LFRIP (facilitated development). Water secured by the LFRIP is for urban, industrial and agricultural purposes. Urban and industrial developments are well regulated and subject to specific environmental approvals processes. Use of water for agricultural purposes, intensive irrigated agriculture in particular,is less regulated. Policies developed are reactive and require individual projects to address these impacts.In the absence of regulatory guidelines for assessment of consequential impacts, the project adopted a collaborative approach. The proponents established a working group, including State and Commonwealth technical agencies. This allowed for robust and scientifically defendable methodologies to be developed and agreed upfront. Streamlining the approach by including key decision makers assisted in managing expectations and focused the assessment on realistic and achievable outcomes relative to the project. The result was defendable outcomes allowing timely decision making and avoided rework as much as possible.
This paper describes developments in environmental assessment relating to new and augmented weirs.
Russell Paton and David Murray
The South-East Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy is securing future water supplies, which includes a regional water grid and new water storages. The Queensland Government’s contribution to future water supplies includes Traveston Crossing Dam on the Mary River, Wyaralong Dam on the Teviot Brook, and Bromelton Offstream Storage and Cedar Grove Weir on the Logan River.
Queensland Water Infrastructure (QWI) was established by the Queensland Government in June 2006 to progress feasibility studies, design and construction of this new water infrastructure. QWI commissioned SunWater to investigate much of this infrastructure to preliminary design level for the impact assessment process and as supporting information for potential alliance partners for the delivery of the projects. The work undertaken included extensive geotechnical investigations, hydraulic modelling, hydrologic modelling and design activities. This paper outlines the investigations associated with the preliminary design of this infrastructure and process of risk and opportunity identification to establish the program and budgets for these projects.
Stage 1 of Traveston Crossing Dam is to be constructed by the end of 2011, with a storage capacity of 153,000 ML providing a yield of 70,000 ML each year. The design adopted for the dam consists of a roller compacted concrete structure across the valley floor with an earth embankment section on the left abutment. In order to limit inundation upstream and mitigate flooding in Gympie, a gated spillway on the right abutment has been adopted. The Traveston Crossing Dam has an estimated project cost of $1,700 million.
The design developed for the Wyaralong damsite provides a reservoir with storage capacity of 103,000 ML and a yield of 21,000 ML each year when operated in conjunction with Cedar Grove Weir. Preliminary designs have been prepared for three types of dam, which are all considered technically feasible for the site. They are a roller compacted concrete dam, an earth and rockfill dam and a concrete faced rockfill dam. The Wyaralong Dam has an estimated project cost of $500 million.
The Bromelton Offstream Storage, of earthfill construction, provides a storage capacity of 8,000 ML and Cedar Grove Weir, a sheet pile structure, provides a storage capacity of 1,000 ML and both are to be constructed by the end of 2007.
Keywords: Planning, Traveston Crossing Dam, Wyaralong Dam, Bromelton Offstream Storage, Cedar Grove Weir, Queensland, risk.
Woodrow Lee Fields
Although flooding can lead to many types of severe consequences, the primary objective of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dam and levee safety programs are to manage risk to the public who rely on those structures to keep them reasonably safe from flooding. Thus, reducing the risk associated with loss of life is paramount. This paper discusses new methods that have been developed for estimating life loss with uncertainty from flood events.
HEC-LifeSim is a dynamic simulation system for estimating life loss with the fundamental intent to simulate population redistribution during an evacuation in conjunction with flood wave propagation. The population redistribution process has been revised from the ground up as an agent based model. In addition to the agent based model, uncertainty analysis has been enhanced. Through Monte Carlo sampling, the natural variability of warning and mobilization timing and likelihood of fatality varies delivering a range of potential life loss from a hazard. Knowledge uncertainty about parameters, such as warning issuance time, can also be defined. To accommodate the new HEC-LifeSim computation engine, an innovative GIS interface has been developed to quickly summarize and animate results. The methods that are discussed in the following provide new tools to estimate life loss and educate local authorities.
Richard Herweynen, Tim Griggs, Alan White
The Ministry of Public Utilities, Sarawak, Malaysia used an independent dam safety consultant to advise them on whether the Murum Dam was ready for impoundment. They were looking for a holistic assessment of the dam from a dam safety perspective. As a result, a risk framework was adopted to identify the key issues that needed to be addressed prior to impoundment of the Murum Dam. The process adopted which is presented in this paper, was transparent and defensible; and provided a reasoned approach for which items must be completed prior to the commencement of impoundment. As a result effort was focused on the key activities required prior to impoundment – whether this was the completion of specific works, the availability of key instrumentation to monitor the dams performance, the availability and operation of key dam safety systems, or the appropriate emergency preparedness should a dam safety incident occur during first filling. This systematic process based on a risk based approach, was a useful method of determining the dam’s readiness for impoundment, and provided an excellent way of communicating the importance of activities to the key stakeholders. The authors believe that this method is transferable to other dam projects, for an assessment of a dam’s readiness for impoundment.
Keywords: Dam safety, risk, impoundment, reservoir filling.
Randy J James, Yuyi Zhang, Gabriela Lyvers, David Schaaf
Abstract: Following the flooding disaster in New Orleans, Louisiana, due to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) initiated a comprehensive program to survey, evaluate, and rank all dams and levees in the COE’s portfolio for risk of structural failure and associated economic consequences. One objective of this program is to improve safety and risk through efficient allocation of resources for rehabilitation efforts when needed. One area of great concern is internal stresses in aging concrete monoliths causing cracking. While some cracking in concrete monoliths is a common condition having little effect on the structural performance, extended cracking can lead to instability in parts of the monolith. Mass concrete monoliths generally are not reinforced, and cold joints at lift interfaces are a potential source of weak planes. Failure of concrete monoliths due to sliding instability along internal cracked planes can have serious consequences for loss of pool. This failure mode can occur quite suddenly, and detection of such cracking or the extent of such cracking is very difficult to establish from visual inspections or even core sampling. To help in this portfolio risk assessment, analysis methodology has been developed for establishing the structural risk due to cracking in mass concrete monoliths. Finite element modelling with automated mesh generation and employing advanced concrete constitutive relations for crack initiation, propagation, and arrest, are used to establish internal cracking. Monte Carlo based probabilistic analysis methods, directly coupled to the finite element analyses, are used to evaluate uncertainties and establish the probability of failure for increasing pool elevations and seismic hazards. The objective is to provide a probability of failure for possible pool elevations under current site conditions given that there is always some possibility of a range of seismic events that could occur at any given time.
Keywords: concrete dams, cracking, structural reliability, risk, and safety