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.
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New technology and outputs from flood forecasting systems can raise issues for dam safety managers in how they use uncertain information to make critical dam safety decisions. In particular, making operational decisions around pre-releases based on forecast inflow presents challenges. In this case dam safety risk needs to be weighed up with other risks such as increasing downstream flooding, or being able to supply water into the future. The process of developing a flood forecasting system should be a close collaboration between the developers and the users. This ensures that outputs provide meaningful information that can be used to support operational decision-making in a flood or emergency response situation.
Physical modelling of dam structures remains a preferred method for validating and improving dam designs. Flow behaviour in the approach and over the crest of a dam can be accurately studied with traditional methods such as pressure transducers, piezometers and current meters due to the relatively smooth and steady flow conditions. However, characterising flows within a stilling basin is far more difficult due to the complex, aerated and highly turbulent flow conditions. Recent work on detailed measurement of hydraulic jumps using a line-scanning Lidar was adapted for measurement of stilling basin surface profiles in a 1:50 scale model of Somerset Dam, QLD. Lidar was shown to be an effective and efficient tool for providing assessment of the toe jump, boil and flow into the downstream channel.
Regular assessment of dam stability is essential to ensure safe and reliable operation of these structures throughout their service life. In some cases, monitoring of the surrounding environment can be as important as monitoring carried out over the dam itself. Risk management programs should therefore look at the entire site and nearby terrain to ensure any and all possible geohazards which may impact dam integrity are identified and tracked over time.
InSAR is a type of remote sensing that uses radar satellite imagery to measure surface movement occurring over time, often achieving millimetric levels of precision. This approach does not require fieldwork or the installation of equipment, measurements are instead obtained from reflections of the satellite radar signal off infrastructure, rocks and bare ground. Furthermore, as the measurements are obtained from satellite images that extend over regions thousands of kilometres squared in size, they can provide information on stability over dams, surrounding reservoirs, even entire regions.
The main advantage of InSAR technology for dam monitoring is two-fold. First, in addition to monitoring the dam itself, stability of the surrounding area (including slopes around dam reservoirs) can be tracked. Second, both long- and short-term displacement trends can be captured (including historical analyses) providing a more complete picture of dam behaviour over time.
Several examples of InSAR results obtained over different dam sites are presented.
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.
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.