The As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) principle was established in the Australian Dams
community in the ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment in 1994. Since that time, dam owners have been focused on reducing their societal risk to below the ANCOLD Limit of Tolerability (LoT) through dam safety upgrades and are now considering how to justify an ALARP position. This paper presents a framework that provides a systematic approach to assembling the inputs, applying a process and documenting the outcomes of an ALARP assessment. It is a pragmatic approach that aligns with the safety case, which is a legislated requirement for Major Hazard Facilities in Victoria.
The framework has been applied to two dams in Melbourne Water’s portfolio with differing societal risk, size, uses and criticality to the water supply system. It has highlighted the importance of dam safety governance, documentation of procedures, defensible technical analysis and an ongoing engagement with leading industry practice, in demonstrating risks are ALARP.
The assessment of the geological foundations of arch dams is required as part of the asset owner’s safety obligations (ANCOLD 2003). The task is often made difficult due to steep topography where arch dams are commonly constructed. Between 2013 and 2017, GHD was engaged by South Australia Water (SA Water) to examine the geological and geotechnical conditions of the Sturt River Flood Attenuation Dam (South Australia) abutment foundations. The dam was constructed between 1964 and 1966 within the Proterozoic “Sturt Tillite”. The foundations of the dam are characterised by a folded and fractured rock mass which creates complex spatial relationships between discontinuities and outcrop expression, difficult to assess in two-dimensional space. In collaboration with Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, a high resolution ortho-photogrammetric survey of the downstream dam abutments was undertaken using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in areas where traditional mapping could only be obtained by rope access methods. Monash also undertook digital geological mapping of inferred discontinuities based on the UAV imagery. The data was then used to construct a three-dimensional (3D) model of the shape and position of high-persistence discontinuities, potentially critical to abutment stability. In addition to digital data, a low cost, high value field investigation to “ground-truth” the digital data and reviewed existing geological information (including rope access scanline data, foundation mapping and rotary cored boreholes) to develop a holistic understanding of the persistent discontinuities in their geological context.
Millions of dollars are spent on dam upgrade works which are often undertaken to meet the flood security requirements. Prioritisation of the dam upgrade work is based on portfolio risk assessments in which dambreak modelling is an integral part. Concurrent design flow hydrographs of tributaries downstream of dam are required for the assessment of the incremental effect of a dam break scenario. The Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) neutral concurrent tributary flows can be estimated using a bivariate-normal distribution approach.
This paper examines the underlying assumptions made in the application of the bivariate normal distribution approach using observed and design rainfall data for Avon Dam and its downstream tributary catchments. Synthetically generated data was used to illustrate the impact of the log-normal distribution assumption on the AEP neutral concurrent tributary rainfalls. This paper suggests a modification to the bivariate-normal distribution approach to estimate more unbiased AEP neutral concurrent design rainfalls. The use of historical gridded rainfall in the estimation of inter-catchment rainfall correlation is also demonstrated.
An assessment of dam failure consequence for Jandowae Water Supply Dam in South-West Queensland was performed using HEC-LifeSim. The purpose of the assessment was to investigate the applicability of the software to inform decisions on an appropriate regulatory pathway for the dam that reflects the consequences of failure. This paper details the development of the hydrologic and hydraulic models behind the HEC-LifeSim simulations, the assignment of key parameters and their sensitivities, and a comparison of predictions to existing procedures for assessing potential loss of life and populations at risk. The paper reflects upon the level of effort required to develop HEC-LifeSim assessments and the relative benefits gained using this information in the regulatory space.
Lessons learned from recent major incidents and related enquiries in Victoria in concert with the adoption
of an all-emergencies all-communities philosophy have informed both the scope and reach of the current
emergency management and dam safety regulatory environment. Victorian dam owners now have a statutory
obligation to implement an all-emergencies all-communities approach to risk assessment at their assets and,
as part of that, to adopt this approach as part of their “business as usual” activities. A major outcome of
this requirement is that for major dams, risk management is now being driven from Board and senior
management level: the implementation of controls and actions is formalised. As a consequence, there is a
better understanding across the organisation of new and emerging risks that require new technologies,
thinking and expertise and an improved appreciation of asset interdependencies and the risk posed to reliant
stakeholders. With other reforms including oversight and audit arrangements in place, the move from “doing
enough” to striving for “good’ industry practice, aided by an improved regulatory regime and statutory
processes, is well established. A brief consideration of the lessons learned from the February 2017 Oroville
dam incident in this context concludes the paper.
Global climate change will amplify existing risks, as well as create new risks for natural and human systems. Recent climate changes have already had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Dams provide a range of economic, environmental and social benefits including irrigation, flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power, recreation and wildlife habitat and play an important role in human settlement. Adapting into the effects of climate change is vitally important for future management of dams. This paper uses the recent drought and floods in Victoria to illustrate the importance of considering the effects of climate change in design, operations, maintenance and emergency management of dams.