The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for flood risk management across the United States. USACE has more than 710 dams and is responsible for more than 24,000 kilometres of levees. Since 2008, USACE projects have prevented more than AU$1.2 Trillion (in 2017 dollars) in damages from flooding. Although some of this came as a result of dozens of smaller floods, much of that protection came during three events within the last five years. From 2010 through 2017, the U.S. has had three major inland floods and two coastal events where federal flood protection exists: in 2010 on the Cumberland River, in 2011 on the Missouri, Ohio, White, and Mississippi Rivers, in 2015 on several rivers in Texas and Oklahoma, and in 2017 along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and its territories in the Caribbean. For many of these locations, these events produced record rainfall and the flood of record. USACE operated many large facilities on these systems and those systems overall performed as expected. However, USACE also experienced some operational issues, did a substantial amount of flood fighting, had several incidents, and several failures. This paper will describe the flooding experienced in those events, the operations of the flood protection systems, the performance overall, and some of the lessons learned.
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Kangaroo Creek Dam is a concrete face rockfill dam (CFRD) located on the Torrens River, approximately 22 km north east of Adelaide. The dam is currently undergoing a major upgrade to align it with updated safety guidelines set by the Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) to better withstand major flood events or earthquakes. As part of this upgrade, external omega-type waterstops have been installed on the vertical and perimetric joints to mitigate the impact of expected joint deformations due to seismic loading. Two profiles were selected for the external waterstops; one capable of extending 200 mm for the perimetric joint and the outer two vertical joints on each side, and one capable of extending 100 mm for the remaining vertical joints and the horizontal joint between the new face slab and the original face slab. Using the external omega-type waterstops as the second waterstop for the extended perimetric joint simplified construction, particularly with respect to reinforcement details adjacent to joints. It is understood that this is the first time in Australia that an omega-type waterstop is being fitted to a CFRD slab. This paper demonstrates the benefits of retrofitting waterstops to existing dam joints when required, provides general installation details, details for providing a continuous barrier with the existing waterstops by overlapping internal and external waterstops, and lessons learnt from the waterstop installation.
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.
For hydropower dam projects, design and construction of the temporary works including cofferdams are very important. Improper selection, design and/or construction of temporary works may cause delay of major construction works and increase construction cost.
The authors worked on the preparation of the Engineering, procurement and construct EPC tender (based on International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) contract-yellow book) for a 20 MW Hydro Power Plant (HPP) project in the Balkans Region. The scheme involved the design and construction of three cofferdams to enable construction of the main dam, intake and powerhouse. The basis for tendering, as a part the contract documents, was the preliminary design of the HPP scheme. The tenderers were allowed to deviate from the solutions presented in the preliminary design as long as the proposed solutions fulfilled the Employer’s Requirements.
As a part of a winning strategy, the preliminary design cofferdams were changed and modified, providing significant saving and facilitating quicker and safer construction. This paper presents the development of the design and challenges faced during construction work.
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.
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.