Auckland Council (Council) is developing a dam safety management system with an overall objective to protect people, property, infrastructure, and the environment, from the harmful effects of a dam failure.
Council has responsibilities as an owner and operator of approximately 600 stormwater ponds and wetlands, many associated with dams. Council also has wider responsibilities for safety in the Auckland region, which may be affected by dams owned by others and even by inadvertent dams, such as road or rail embankments across streams that have the unintended but potential function of diverting, storing or holding back water. Three categories of dams have been distinguished, associated with Council’s different types of responsibility. Each category of dam is managed differently in the dam safety management system.
Given the large number of structures, which are not always obviously dams, a key activity has been the initial identification of dams across the Auckland region. Prioritisation has also been a necessary tool to direct resources and programme. Once dams have been identified, the consequences and risk of dam failure have been assessed, and commensurate measures have been established to manage those risks. There is limited guidance for some of these activities, and new procedures and tools have been developed.
This paper describes the process and the challenges encountered, for consideration by other councils when developing their own systems, and for consideration by the wider dams’ community.
The ANCOLD Guidelines (2019) require that active and neotectonic faults which could significantly
contribute to the ground-shaking or ground-displacement hazard for a dam should be accounted for in seismic hazard assessments. While geological and geomorphological field investigations along suspected active fault structures are undertaken as a matter of course in New Zealand, this practice is relatively uncommon in Australia. Granted, rates of tectonic processes are greater in New Zealand than in intraplate Australia. However, moderate to large and damaging earthquakes are not uncommon in the Australian record; there have been ~26 earthquakes of magnitude >M6 in the last 150 years (~1 event every ~6 years) and similar events might be expected in the future. We present examples of investigations undertaken to better understand earthquake hazard for two faults – previous studies on the Wellington Fault, New Zealand, and new data from recent investigations of the Avonmore Scarp, southeast Australia. We report the results from these studies and discuss how the collection of similar data on faults proximal to Australian dams would allow dam owners and operators to better quantify seismic hazard and, thereby, more meaningfully comply with the ANCOLD guidelines.
Identification of people impacted by a hypothetical dam-break flood is required to understand the potential hazard a dam poses to downstream communities. The New Zealand Dam Safety Guidelines and the Australian Consequence Categories for Dams define these people collectively as the “Population at Risk” (PAR) and recommend that evaluation of PAR should include both permanent and temporary populations. However, there is limited guidance on specific methods to determine these populations. This paper provides an outline of an evidence-based, repeatable method to determine the PAR (both permanent and temporary) within a dam-break flood inundation zone. The method is intended to provide guidance for people tasked with estimating PAR in accordance with the New Zealand Dam Safety Guidelines. The methodology provides a current practice framework for users to apply and estimate the PAR in a clear and defendable manner.
In recent times two dimensional (2D) hydraulic modelling has become the most common type of modelling for undertaking dambreak assessments. Direct map outputs such as depth and depth-velocity product are very useful in assessing risk across a floodplain. The temporal output from 2D models also enables the tracking of flow across a floodplain, helping practitioners and dam owners alike make informed decisions on warning time and evacuation routes. These outputs form essential input to packages such as HEC-LifeSim an agent-based simulation model for estimating life loss by simulating population redistribution during an evacuation.
A number of investigations have shown the hydraulic model, TUFLOW, is able to simulate the hydraulic conditions expected in a dambreak flood wave, giving confidence in the model’s ability to correctly capture the flood wave propagation. Notwithstanding this ability, there remains uncertainty over the best methodology to adopt when assigning a breach hydrograph to the model and in turn the impact this choice has on assessing downstream populations at risk.
A commonplace method of assigning dam breach hydrographs is to model the reservoir and dam structure with a 1D model or spreadsheet, where the storage is represented with a stage storage relationship and outflow through a time-varying breach is calculated using level-pool routing. The resulting hydrograph is then applied directly to a 2D model immediately downstream of the dam to model the propagation of flow downstream.
An alternative approach consists of representing the entire reservoir, dam and downstream floodplain in the 2D model. This allows for the dynamic effects of bathymetric constrictions in the reservoir to be accounted for which could greatly impact on the timing and shape of the dam breach hydrograph. However, this comes at a cost, as representing the reservoir in 2D requires bathymetry data which can be expensive to capture and also may require a major extension of the model domain.
In this paper the ‘Fully 2D’ and ‘Stage storage relationship 1D/Spreadsheet’ approaches are compared for a number of case studies.
The ANCOLD (2003) Guidelines on Risk Assessment contain criteria regarding the tolerable level of individual risk from dam failure. Maslin et al. (2012) describe an approach to estimating individual risk from dam failure, using exposure factors, warning and evacuation factors, and fatality factors. These factors vary according to the people at risk, the anticipated warning time, the flood severity and the shelter people are likely to be in. Maslin et al. (2012) provide step-by-step instructions, which means their approach can be applied in a consistent manner from dam to dam. However, the recommended fatality factors are based on Graham (1999) and DHS (2011) definitions of high, medium and low severity flooding which have been superseded by the Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM). Therefore, in this paper modifications to the Maslin et al. (2012) approach are proposed, so that estimates of individual risk from dam failure are consistent with RCEM-based estimates of societal risk. The paper then concludes with two predictions about how the assessment and use of individual risk in Australian dam safety management may change in future.
The geographical location of New Zealand to the south west of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ and in the ‘Roaring Forties’ of the Pacific Ocean exposes national infrastructure networks across the country to a range of natural hazards. Despite this, studies of built environment resilience to natural hazards in New Zealand, have historically focused on the robustness of individual physical assets, with less emphasis on the performance of infrastructure networks at a national level. This is particularly true for the stopbank (levee) network. Until recently, stopbanks have often been considered at regional scales and to varying degrees depending on what information has been catalogued, and the level of interest / requirements and local expertise available at the time.
We present the findings of a preliminary national level natural hazard exposure assessment of New Zealand’s stopbank network by adopting the newly developed New Zealand Inventory of Stopbanks (NZIS). Geospatial seismic hazard data from recent modelling is used as a case study to demonstrate how understanding the exposure of stopbanks in NZIS can inform multi-hazard risk and resilience assessments. Four seismic and co- seismic hazard metrics are considered in our stopbank network exposure assessment: surface rupture (through proximity to known active faults), the strength of ground shaking (i.e. probabilistic estimates of peak ground accelerations and velocities), and liquefaction and landslide susceptibility.
With over 20% of current catalogued NZIS stopbank length and a relatively high seismic hazard exposure (active fault proximity and liquefaction susceptibility) in Southland, the likelihood of stopbank failure or breaching due to seismic activity appears to be relatively high in this region of New Zealand. Large sections of the stopbank network in other regions including Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington and Hawkes Bay are also particularly exposed to large seismic hazards in our preliminary assessment. However, further work is required to more appropriately understand stopbank attributes including design and safety considerations.