Jiri Herza, Michael Ashley, James Thorp
The principle of minimum acceptable factors of safety has been used to assess the stability of embankment dams for decades. The commonly applied minimum acceptable factors of safety remain very similar to those recommended in the early 1970’s, despite the development of new design tools and better understanding of material behaviour. The purpose of factors of safety is to ensure reliability of the dam design and to account for uncertainties and variability of dam and foundation material parameters, uncertainties of design loads and limitations of the analysis method used. The impact of uncertainties and reliability of input values into stability analyses was recognised many decades ago, and the factor of safety was recommended depending on the loading conditions and the consequences of failure or unacceptable performance. Interestingly, the minimum recommended factors of safety used today do not take into account the potential consequences of dam failure or the uncertainties in input values, and are based on the loading conditions only. Yet, several authors have demonstrated that a higher factor of safety does not necessarily result in a lower probability of failure, as the analysis also depends on the quality of investigations, testing, design and construction. This paper summarises the history of the factor of safety principle in dam engineering, discusses the calculation of the factor of safety using commonly used analytical tools, demonstrates the impact of uncertainties using a case study and provides recommendations for potential improvements.
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Barton Maher and Michael Peel
The Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (Seqwater) manages up to $12 billion of bulk water supply infrastructure and the natural catchments of the region’s water supply sources to ensure a reliable, quality water supply for more than 3million consumers across the region. Seqwater was formed on 1 January 2013 through a merger of three State-owned water businesses, the SEQ Water Grid Manager, LinkWater and the former Seqwater. Seqwater delivers a safe, secure and reliable water supply to South East Queensland, as well as providing essential flood mitigation services and managing catchment health. Seqwater also provides water for irrigation to about 1,200 farmers and offers community recreation facilities enjoyed by more than 2.5 million people each year.Seqwater owns and operates 26 referable dams which fall under the dam safety regulation in Queensland, 51 weirs, and two bore fields across the region. Twelve key dams across the region supply as much as 90% of South East Queensland’s drinking water.In 2011, Seqwater engaged a consultant team of URS (now AECOM) and SKM (now Jacobs) to undertake a portfolio risk assessment of the 26 referable dams and Mount Crosby Weir. At the completion of the project in December 2013 there were 12 dams with life safety risks assessed as being above the ANCOLD and DEWS Limit of Tolerability. A $6.2 million investigation was approved in 2014 to commence planning for the recommended dam safety upgrades and reduce uncertainties in the risk assessment.This program of work was completed in late 2016. The estimated costs of the identified dam safety upgrades exceed $900 million.Confronted with such a large capital program, Seqwater has instigated a number of key actions including:-benchmarking capital investment and rates of risk reduction achieved by other dam owners through a dam owners group-developing a dam safety investment policy to provide a clear guidance on the framework for prioritising and scheduling upgrades-undertaking targeted investigations to reduce uncertainty in the risk assessments including the use of detailed consequence assessment-preparing a prioritised schedule of planned upgrades to gain endorsement from Government and the Dam Safety Regulator. This paper presents the outcomes of the Portfolio Risk Assessment and key changes to the initial risk assessment following further studies. The basis for the dam safety investment policy is presented and the proposed prioritisation tools.The impacts of the risk assessment provisions in the most recent revision of Queensland Acceptable Flood Capacity Guidelines for Water Dams are also discussed. In particular,the application of the economic criteria for determining the minimum upgrade required by the Queensland Dam Safety Regulator and its relevance to other dam owners.
Elaine Pang, Robert Fowden
There are numerous established methods available for assessing the consequences of failure for earthen water dams.The estimation of breach dimensions and failure times remains the greatest common area of uncertainty, particularly for dams under 10m in height, where the number of historic records behind the established methods reduces considerably.Also, various factors can have a significant impact on the strength of small dam embankments, potentially contributing to the likelihood of failure.Consequently, failure impact assessments for smaller dams may rely more heavily on the engineering judgement of the responsible engineer. Although the consequences of failure may indeed be lower for smaller dams, the large number of unknown or unregulated dams in some locations means that it can be difficult to quantify their overall contribution in terms of dam safety risk. This paper presents an on-going project to compile and analyse observed small earthen dam failures with the intent of refining existing statistical breach relationships for smaller dams.Context is provided through an overview of DEWS’ investigative program, including the presentation of several case studies which highlight field data collected throughout the program.
Richard Herweynen, Suraj Neupane, Paul Southcott and Ashish B. Khanal
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is home to more than five million people. Three major rivers including the Bagmati run through the city of Kathmandu, providing the environmental and cultural lifelines for the civilisation and local people. High population growth in Kathmandu over the past 30years has put a serious environmental strain on the Bagmati River. Water is drawn from the Bagmati River for drinking, farming, industries and construction. Due to the lack of capacity in the current sewerage systems, untreated sewage is entering the river system, along with high quantities of rubbish. Although a holy river, the Bagmati River is highly degraded, with reduced flows, high pollution, and a fresh water ecosystem that is now destroyed.To revive the Bagmati River, the Government of Nepal with funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is undertaking the Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project (BRBIP). One of the sub-projects is the construction of a dam on the Nagmati River to store water during the monsoon period for environmental release during dry season.Since November 2015, Entura have been involved in the investigation and detailed design of the Nagmati Dam. Through a simple storage model, it was determined that 8.2Mm 3 of live storage was required to meet the environmental flow objectives. To achieve this storage a 95m high dam was required at the Nagmati site, with a concrete faced rockfill dam (CFRD) determined to be the best option.This paper will present the development of this unique project, highlighting how a number of the challenges were addressed, leading to a sustainable project.
Andrew Balme, Dan Forster, Tim Logan
The MW7.8 Kaikōura earthquake on 14 November 2016, ruptured over 20 faults during the initial shaking,which lasted nearly two minutes. A complex series of fault ruptures propagated northeast for nearly 180 km from the initial rupture location. Instrumentation from dams across New Zealand shows that whilst most dams did not suffer physical damage, piezometric responses were measured in dams and their foundations. Earthquake related changes in seepage regimes are not unusual and depend on the characteristics of the ground motions,and site specific characteristics that influence how a dam and its foundation respond to ground motions. The ability to measure a piezometric response in a dam or foundation is heavily influenced by the instrumentation network and method of monitoring. Data collected during events such as the Kaikōura earthquake provides valuable information for both characterising performance of a dam during the event, and assisting future analysis such as failure mode assessments. Careful consideration must be given to the scope of installed instrumentation and the frequency of monitoring in order to provide these benefits,and the robustness of the system to ensure it adequately survives the event.
Paul S. Meeks
In June 2008 a young girl kayaking at a hydroelectric control dam owned by Alcan in Quebec Canada, tragically drowned when she was swept through the open spillgates. The public safety boat barrier, installed the year before, failed to prevent this accident. In June 2015, Stephen Hembree took his daughter and 7 of her friends out for a pontoon boat ride on Lake Linganore to celebrate her 16th birthday. A short time later, Mr. Hembree was dead while his daughter and her friends were be rescued by helicopter as they clung to boulders in the spillway. Contrast these incidents to one in March 2017, when the public safety boat barrier installed by Alliant Energy at Kilbourn Dam was credited with preventing the loss of life after a woman fell into the river above the dam. What went wrong in the first 2 instances and what can we learn from the third incident? What steps can dam owners take to prevent accidents like these from happening?
The first two incidents represent preventable loss of life at a dam while the third incident proves how a proactive approach to public safety results in reduced liability for dam owners and lower loss of life. In the Alcan instance, the public safety barrier installed to prevent this very scenario was instead installed in a location that doomed the girl even before she set her kayak in the water. The second instance demonstrates how a dam owners lack of risk awareness coupled with a boat owners carelessness resulted in a fatality.
Using the incidents above, this presentation, modeled after the Canadian Dam Associations Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams, will educate owners and operators how to identify “dangerous” zones above and below dams. We will consider the effects of surface water velocity of individual survivability and barrier effectiveness. Flow-3D models will be shown to illustrate the effect of barrier alignment and velocity to increase an individual’s ability to “self-rescue”. Lastly, we will integrate within the presentation practical guidelines for the use of signage, sign size, lettering height and message consistency. The presentation will conclude by examining lessons learned in the Alcan incident and presenting how a proper public safety barrier and signage plan would be implemented.
More people have died from accidents around dams than have died from dam failures. The Canadian Dam Association published its guidelines in 2011 and the result has seen a significant reduction in fatalities and injuries as a result of recreating around Canadian Dams. The United States Society on Dams (USSD), the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) all have embarked on efforts, modeled in large part around the CDA Guidelines to bring Public Safety out of the dam safety toolbox so Public Safety is viewed as a separate managed system. This is being conducted in an effort to educate and alert dam owners, operators and recreational users to hazards and risks in and around dams.