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.
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As predicted by Powel (2000) claims for professional negligence are very common and their frequency is increasing due to the increasing demand for professionals’ services, specialisation, higher standards, intolerance of poor performance by societies and the increasing litigious nature of business.
The increasing expectations of the society are reflected in the changing attitude of the authorities and courts towards professionals when things go wrong. The changing attitude is fuelled by the unprecedented media coverage of failures of structures with human and environmental losses. This is particularly relevant to the tailings industry, which is marked by the recent dam failures in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, China, Australia and India.
The far reaching expectations for duty of care of professionals has been strikingly illustrated from the fallouts from recent major and widely publicised TSF failures such as Mt Polley (three consultant engineers accused of unprofessional conduct), the 2015 Samarco failure (22 individuals charged with various criminal offences including homicide) and the recent Brumadinho failure (charges of false representation have also been brought against the consultant engineers).
This paper examines the responsibilities and duties of engineers operating in the tailings industry with respect to the professionals’ duty of care and the consequences of breaching those responsibilities and duties. This paper also discusses the potential conflicting interests of consulting engineers and proposes that engineers are, in the vast majority, ill-prepared for navigating the changing waters of professional negligence.
The authors of this paper believe that a better understanding of the professional duty of care could reduce the number of claims for professional negligence. As a corollary, the reduced rate of professional negligence could result into fewer tailings failures in the future.
Professional industry bodies such as Engineers Australia should act to clarify the legal obligations and duties of engineers, as they are the best placed institutions to do so for the whole industry. In addition, consideration should be given to inclusion of a discussion of the aforementioned obligations and duties into relevant ANCOLD Guidelines.
Design floods for most dams and levees typically have an annual exceedance probability (AEP) of 1:100 (1E-2) or less frequent. In the U.S., high hazard dams are designed to pass the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF), which typically has an AEP of 1:10,000 (1E-4) or less frequent. In order to reduce epistemic uncertainties in the estimated AEP for extreme floods, such as the PMF, it is important to incorporate as much hydrologic information into the frequency analysis as reasonably possible. This paper presents a Bayesian analysis framework, originally profiled by Viglione et al. (2013), for combining at-site flood data with temporal information on historic and paleofloods, spatial information on precipitation-frequency, and causal information on the flood processes. This framework is used to evaluate the flood hazard for Lookout Point Dam, which is a high priority dam located in the Willamette River Basin, upstream of Portland, Oregon. Flood frequency results are compared with those from the Expected Moments Algorithm (EMA). Both analysis methods produce similar results for typical censored data, such as historical floods; however, unlike the Bayesian analysis framework, EMA is not capable of incorporating the causal rainfall-runoff information in a formal, probabilistic manner. Consequently, the Bayesian method considered herein provides higher confidence in the fitted flood frequency curves and resulting reservoir stage-frequency curves to be used in dam and levee safety risk assessments.
Following the failure of Paloona Dam’s intake trashrack during the 2016 floods in northern Tasmania, a replacement trashrack and support structure was designed, manufactured and installed (by diver) within five months. This was a remarkable feat and hailed as a success at the time.
The euphoria, however, was short lived. A routine dive inspection in January 2018 revealed cracked
trashrack bars on one of the panels and this was after less than twelve months’ operation. This prompted a rigorous investigation where it was determined that the bars suffered fatigue due to flow induced vibration. Indeed it is possible that the bars cracked within a few weeks of returning to service.
The science of flow induced vibration is relatively mature, having been extensively researched over several decades. Its application to trashracks is well documented. However, this experience has shown that the common design approach overly simplifies the fluid-structure interaction. For Paloona, the result was a trashrack design which has proven to be inadequate, not having the resilience required for a dam outlet works component.
This paper revisits flow induced vibration theory as it pertains to trashracks, outlines the findings of vibration testing at Paloona, and suggests a design approach which will avoid similar issues. It is hoped that similar failures can be prevented and the design life expected of trashracks achieved.
Flood inundation consequence and emergency evacuation assessment using advanced numerical modelling tools such as HEC-LifeSim is progressively emerging as accepted best practice, due in part to the growing ease in obtaining the necessary datasets and hydraulic numerical modelling results and the increasing computational power readily available to perform analyses. In turn, these tools are being applied to assess dam failure consequence and the effectiveness of emergency response procedures.
An essential resource is an approved Emergency Action Plan (EAP, also known as a Dam Safety Emergency Plan), which describes how dam owners and disaster management groups notify and warn persons at risk of harm during an emergency event. There have been progressive improvements in the effectiveness of EAPs through a series of reviews and lessons learnt from emergency events, legislative and regulatory amendments and general improvements in communications, monitoring, alerts and public awareness. Effectiveness is measured through feedback from training exercises and expert reviews, however a more quantitative measure is not presently available. This limitation can challenge decision makers who need to balance costs associated with emergency preparedness with anticipated reductions in life safety risks.
The paper explores the feasibility of providing a quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of an EAP using advanced consequence modelling (HEC-LifeSim). Using consequence models for two dams in Queensland, EAP effectiveness is assessed for a range of emergency response measures. The accuracy and reliability of the model parameters applied to each simulation and their impact upon the reliability of predictions of potential loss of life (PLL) are analysed and discussed. The feasibility of the approach is discussed and recommendations to be considered for future applications made.
The waters that feed the Nyamwamba River in western Uganda start as meltwater from the glaciers high up in the Rwenzori Mountains. A small scale run-of-river hydropower plant, equipped with a low height tyrolean type intake weir, is now operating just upstream of the town of Kilembe, the first large community along this river. History has seen floods cause realignments of the river through the town and major damage to property and loss of life.
A devastating flood occurred during the design phase for the scheme prior to any construction commencing, which caused loss of life and significant damage to roads, bridges and buildings within the town, including the hospital. Design changes to improve resilience of all riverine connections were made, including relocation of the diversion weir to a stronghold point within the basic protection zone of a natural island. A flood diversion dyke was constructed across one of the river branches that flows around the island, with its alignment, type and height optimised to capture low flows for energy generation while deflecting large flows away from the weir to mitigate flood damage.
Another major flood arrived three months after completion. No damage was sustained which provided confidence in the resilience of the headworks. A major river dredging program contributed to the overall resilience of this reach of river through the town.
This paper describes the challenges for the development of the project site in terms of physical considerations to work with the river, adopting some lessons learned from the pre-construction floods.