Melbourne Water (MW) has historically seen dam safety management as a civil discipline and has focussed on understanding and managing the civil assets at its dam sites. The recent addition of a mechanical engineering resource to the team responsible for the dam safety management has refocused attention on the mechanical and electrical (M&E) assets and provided a more holistic asset management approach to MWs large dams.
This paper discusses the process MW has developed over the past two years to improve their understanding and management of M&E assets. It centres on key process points for how MW has prioritised the development of M&E asset management programs on the basis of an autogenous ‘asset criticality’ rating system and has utilised ANCOLD comprehensive inspections to plan and implement new inspections and tests on dam M&E assets. The two case studies of Sugarloaf and Upper Yarra Reservoirs’ outlet works demonstrate the the benefits of the process to gain operational and technical knowledge of M&E assets, strategic importance to the water supply network, identifying risks therein and reallocate significant funding to address these risks as prioritised by asset criticality.
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Population at Risk (PAR) estimation involves quantification of people who could be exposed to flooding in the event of a dam failure. Conventionally, estimates of PAR involve manual and subjective assessment of individual structures located downstream of dams. To reduce the reliance on subjective judgement and better leverage publicly available population datasets, an automated method of PAR assessment was developed. This approach used the Geoscape dataset of building representations to disaggregate Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census data for a study area around Gawler, South Australia.
Representative day and night spatial distributions of PAR were constructed to characterise the diurnal movement of people between homes and workplaces or other day activities. Flows of people were directly quantified to reduce reliance on high level assumptions regarding exposure. A Random Forest model was used to filter sheds and other unpopulated structures from the Geoscape dataset.
The largest deficiency in this approach is the lack of high detail data to classify building usage. It is recommended that the potential for automation of PAR assessment be continually revisited as more datasets become available.
There are many dams in Australia with appurtenant features such as spillway gates, large capacity outlet works, power stations and transfer tunnels. These features can play a significant role in how these dams are operated during flood events and allow for additional flexibility to implement flood mitigation activities such as pre-releases and surcharge depending on authorised operating procedures for the dam.
Typical practice in many dam flood hydrology studies has been to significantly simplify or even ignore the impacts of these features on the dam water level frequency curve. For example, it may have been assumed that spillway gates were either fully open or changed from fully closed to fully open in a uniform manner regardless of inflow rate. Whilst this approach significantly simplifies routing of floods through these storages, it may produce results which are inconsistent with the expected flood probability of the dam given its current operating procedures, especially for relatively frequent flood events. This is particularly critical for risk assessment where definition of the flood loading probabilities requires robust estimates of water level AEPs for all events.
In a number of recent studies, greater emphasis has been placed on detailed modelling of the effects of spillway gates and other outlet works on dam flood hydrology. This has required site-specific algorithms to be developed which incorporate the characteristics of the spillway gates or other features at each structure, as well as the flood operations procedures for the dam. This paper presents a number of case studies where explicit simulation of dam flood operations has had a significant impact on the resulting flood frequency curve and downstream flow rates and discusses the implications of that on dambreak modelling and risk assessment for those dams.
Investigations into the core material of earth fill dams are undertaken reluctantly due to the potential to cause damage to the embankment. Where investigations are required, Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) is increasingly used to assist with the geotechnical assessment of dam embankments. The risk of hydraulic fracture within embankment core material is well known and procedures are typically adopted to minimise the risk of hydraulic fracture during remediation of the holes. Backfilling is typically done in stages allowing for an initial set of the cement/bentonite grout mixture prior to subsequent lifts.
While the risk of hydraulic fracture is well understood, the lesser known risk of pneumatic fracture is a possibility where certain conditions exist. This paper discusses CPT investigations at Fairbairn Dam, operated by Sunwater in Central Queensland, and the challenges faced in undertaking the remediation of the CPT holes. The potential for pneumatic fracture of the embankment core was highlighted during the investigations and details of alternative techniques adopted for reinstatement of the holes are presented. Recommendations are made to appropriately manage the risk of pneumatic fracture when undertaking CPT’s through embankment core.
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.
Across Australia, recreation usage around dams is growing rapidly. There is also increasing public expectation around the facilities provided and the activities that can be undertaken.
While dams create many benefits, they also have inherent risks associated with them. The risks associated with public access include public and staff safety, water quality, pollution, environmental degradation, bushfires, water availability, dam & power generation operations, and financial.
In 2016 the Victorian government released “Water for Victoria”, a strategy for managing increasingly valued water resources and a growing population. This strategy recognises the importance of recreational enjoyment of waterways and commits water corporations to continuing to maintain infrastructure and facilities to support recreational objectives at their water storages. Water for Victoria also commits water corporations to consider recreational user objectives in the way water storage and supply is managed. However, this must be within legislative requirements to meet the needs of water entitlement holders and with awareness of the realities of dry conditions and climate change.
For the last 10 years, Goulburn Murray Water has been progressively rolling out Land & on Water Management Plans and setting up Land & on Water Implementation Committees. These committees provide a forum for liaison with local government, other statutory authorities, as well as interested environmental, heritage, indigenous, commercial and recreation groups. The groups aim to understand the concerns and requirements of all parties, take appropriate action, which may involve educating communities where some of their desired actions are not achievable.
While this approach has been successful, the growth in social media and the emergence of groups outside of the Land & on Water process has meant that consultation has had to be extended to include self-identifying, special interest groups. This has involved the development of separate groups at Dartmouth and Lake Eppalock to educate and work through the issue at hand, developing appropriate actions, which are accepted and implemented by all parties.
This paper will review the Goulburn Murray Water Land & on Water process, and consider two cases studies, namely the “Save Lake Eppalock” community driven campaign and the provision of fishing access on Dartmouth regulating pondage.