The revised magnitudes of the Geoscience Australia’s NSHA18 earthquake catalogue approximately halve the rate of occurrence of earthquakes of a given Mw magnitude in Australia. This yields probabilistic ground motion levels that are significantly lower than the present design levels at dam sites in Australia that are not near faults, and is expected to result in a general reduction in ground motion levels at dams not near faults estimated for all Risk Assessments, and for Deterministic Assessments for all consequence levels except Extreme Consequence. For the latter, the ANCOLD (2018) guidelines will tend to increase existing SEE ground motion estimates for both of the methods used to estimate the safety evaluation earthquake (SEE). By requiring the use of the Deterministic SEE if it is larger than the probabilistic SEE, and by requiring use of the 85th fractile of the Probabilistic SEE if it is larger than the Deterministic SEE, the ANCOLD (2018) guidelines for Deterministic Assessments are much more conservative than the ICOLD and NZSOLD guidelines for Extreme Consequence dams, especially at those located near faults.
Extreme flood analyses are routinely used as inputs to dam risk assessments, spillway adequacy assessments and spillway designs. Estimation methods applied in Australia using rainfall-runoff models in combination with a Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) estimate are consistent with the current best practice applied around the world. The estimation methods can, however, result in substantial variability in peak flow estimates depending upon the practitioner and the methods used to quantify model parameters. Around the world, validation procedures are commonly applied to combat this variability, but no such techniques are routinely applied in Australia. A method is proposed for application across Australia which may variously be applied to validate and constrain extreme flood estimates and also provide quick estimates.
Earthquakes are a well-known threat to the safety of dams. While this threat is subdued for Australian Dams, the potential for earthquake induced failure of a dam requires risk minimisation in the downstream community through monitoring and emergency response procedures. This paper details WaterNSW’s approach to their development of a Seismic Monitoring Strategy which was to align the business and ensure an appropriate post-seismic response.
The strategy also identifies that a proactive approach to seismic instrumentation can be taken to reduce business risk by aiding decision making should a dam be in a damaged post-seismic state.
The interim outcome of implementing the Seismic Monitoring Strategy resulted in a fast emergency
response time and less overreaction/distraction of dam safety resources in insignificant seismic events. There is opportunity for other Australian dam owners to implement similar systems to = WaterNSW and achieve similar results.
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.
Yarrawonga and Torrumbarry Weirs; located on the Murray River bordering Victoria and New South
Wales, are operated by Goulburn Murray Water on behalf of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
The electrical and control systems that operate both structures were nearing 20 years of age, resulting in risk associated with equipment nearing the end of its useful working life and hardware obsolescence, driving this upgrade program. These control systems are critical in the monitoring and management of river levels and flows that extensively affect Victorian and New South Wales irrigation supplies and recreational users on the Murray River and Lake Mulwala.
Considerable effort was required to update and develop the control philosophy before proceeding to the design phase of the projects. The requirement to work on these brownfield sites, while maintaining operational ability and minimising dam safety and water delivery risks, resulted in a significant implementation and commissioning process. During the course of these works, the opportunity was also taken to enhance and update remote monitoring capability.
The lessons learnt on these projects are being incorporated into current Electrical and Control System Upgrade projects at Cairn Curran Reservoir and Dartmouth Dam.
Since publication in 2003, the ANCOLD Guidelines for Risk Assessment have reached broad acceptance and use in Australia. In practice, dam owners use the principles of risk assessment to drive business investment decisions. As the guidelines undergo revision, it is timely to assess whether our practices need to evolve to more holistically consider all types of consequences, rather than our current focus on loss of life, in decision-making. This paper aims to prompt dam owners and consultants alike to re-assess our focus on loss of life in risk assessment decision-making, and whether we should more meaningfully consider alternative or broader indicators.
An industry survey was undertaken which found that large dam owners are generally happy with the current system of dam safety decision making. However, the survey responses did identify difficulties in relation to justifying investment below the limit of tolerability that are subject to ALARP principles. In a small number of cases, dam owners found it difficult to justify investment when life safety was not important.
Building on the industry survey and subsequent discussions with practitioners, this paper discusses how the current approach to risk based decision making may result in sub optimal decision making. Further it is discussed how there is an important role that economics should play in providing a universally accepted framework for assessing trade-offs and providing consistent evidence to support decision making.