D Stephens, S Lang, P Hill, M Scorah
Robust estimates of the duration of flood overtopping are a key input into the dam safety risk assessment process. For embankment dams, the likelihood of erosion of the dam crest, downstream face and eventual unravelling of the embankment are heavily dependent on the duration of water flowing over the crest. Similarly, the chance of erosion of the abutments of concrete dams is strongly linked to the duration of floodwaters overtopping the dam. Previously, it has been difficult to define the annual exceedance probability (AEP) of the flood required to cause overtopping of a certain depth for a certain duration, and coarse assessments have typically been made based on critical storm durations of the dam crest flood (DCF). This approach carries significant uncertainty, particularly for structures on smaller catchments where the critical storm duration on outflow may be relatively short. In these cases, it has been difficult to confirm with any reliability that the flood required to achieve a significant duration of overtopping has an AEP close to that of the DCF. This paper describes a new algorithm that has been incorporated into the RORB hydrological model which allows for a frequency curve of flood overtopping duration to be determined within a Monte Carlo framework. The results of this analysis are presented for a case study of a quantitative risk assessment, to demonstrate how the outcomes influenced numerous aspects of the risk analysis process.
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James Stuart, Michael Hughes
Several recent rain events in Australia have resulted in impoundment flood levels where there was a surprising variability between the Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) of the flood level and that of the rainfall. The issue was highlighted during the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry (QFCI, 2011) by the Queensland Dam Safety Regulator who suggested there may be a problem with design hydrology after a dam safety event that saw impoundment levels of around 1:9000 AEP with a 1:200 AEP catchment rainfall at North Pine Dam, north of Brisbane in 2011. Wide disparities have occurred at Wivenhoe Dam west of Brisbane, at Callide Dam, west of Gladstone and at other locations.
This paper examines the Generalised Short Duration Method (GSDM) (BoM, 2003) and the Revised Generalised Tropical Storm Method (GTSMR) (BoM, 2003) typically used for dam flood capacity assessments in an attempt to explain the variability outlined above and whether it is, in part, exacerbated by the methods themselves.
It finds that processes of generalising rainfall depth, intensity, temporal and spatial characteristics are working together with adopted hydrological methods to contribute to such variability, that in the worst case could lead to PMF levels in dams with much less rainfall than the associated PMP would infer.
Moreover, two key assumptions; that of AEP neutrality (AEP of rainfall is equal to that of the flood) and frequency of PMP based on catchment area, which are the foundations stones of our understanding of flood frequency for large structures, are found to be untested or simply interim advice. This leads to the conclusion that the likelihood of floods in the range 2000 year AEP to PMF may continue to show surprising variability, potentially of an order of magnitude or more, compared to the rainfall AEP.
There is a need for a review of these methods and potentially provision of interim guidance as these methods are currently being used in dam upgrade programs throughout Australia and are also the basis for emergency planning. The identification of these issues concerns current methods and are independent to any discussion on climate change.Prior to commencing, it is worth defining two terms that re-occur throughout the document:
Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP): The probability that a given rainfall total accumulated over a given duration will be exceeded in any one year. AEP Neutrality is the theory that assumes the probability of the rainfall can be transferred to the resulting flood.
Average Variability Method (AVM): Technique for estimating design temporal pattern of average variability to ensure AEP Neutrality in transition from PMP to PMP design flood
Mark Pearse, Peter Hill
Risk assessments for large dams and the design of upgrades are often dependent on estimates of peak inflows and outflows well beyond those observed in the historic record. The flood frequencies are therefore simulated using rainfall-runoff models and design rainfalls. The recent update of Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) has revised the design rainfalls used to model floods that are of interest to dam owners. This will change the best estimate of flood frequencies for some dams. However, for most dams the impact of revised design rainfalls on flood frequencies is small compared to other factors that can change (independent of dam upgrades). These include model re-calibrations to larger floods, changes to operating procedures that affect the drawdown distribution and improvements in how the joint probabilities of flood causing factors are simulated. In this paper, we look at how the design flood frequencies for some of Australia’s large dams have changed, the reasons for this and then identify five key questions for dam owners to ask to aid assessment of whether the hydrology for a dam should be reviewed
In recent years, there has been greater expectations of waterway barriers to have more consideration of environmental factors; in particular associated with facilitating biopassage across the site.
The scope of the Gympie Weir Detailed Design Project included facilitating biopassage to as many aquatic species as possible,including the protected Mary River Turtle,while maintaining the required gauging accuracy and public amenities.Very rarely has a turtle been observed successfully traversing a fishway, as the designed velocity and depth criteria required to optimise fish passage is unsuitable for turtle passage. Thus for Gympie Weir,a leading-edge innovative solution was designed.
The design incorporates a low flow trapezoidal fishway chute, high flow rock ramp and turtle ramp. The turtle passage is the first of its kind and includes a curved concrete ramp with a variety of textures, two resting pools with protective niches, and limited vertical drop heights. Construction of the weir is intended for the near future and ongoing monitoring will be critical to assessing and improving performance, as well as contributing to the scientific knowledge base for future designs.
Dr Andy Hughes
On Hampstead Heath in Central London, just 3 kilometres from the centre of the city, there are more than 20 dams and reservoirs set within the landscape setting of Hampstead Heath. A number of dams were built in the 16th century and formed the original water supply to the City of London. They are set in a landscape laid out by the world renowned Humphrey Repton.Three of the embankments which are laid out in two chains of reservoirs across the Heath are subject to safety legislation in the UK. As such they were identified as being deficient in spillway capacity and thus fairly significant works were required to be carried out in this sensitive setting.The Heath is protected by the Hampstead Heath Act of 1870 which seeks to prevent significant changes to the Heath and thus it was quite clear that there would be opposition to any works on the Heath, even though they were required by law to protect persons and property downstream. In fact a significant lobby group formed which challenged the need for the works and also the legislation of the UK via a judicial review. This paper will describe the process by which significant stakeholder consultation was undertaken (costing more than £2M), the judicial review that took place in the Royal Courts of Justice, the option study and the major engineered elements carried out on the Heath.
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.