Dams and levees within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) inventory were constructed for a variety of purposes including flood control, navigation, hydropower, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation. USACE transitioned to using life safety risk as a key input to all dam and levee safety decisions in 2006. This was implemented for many reasons, paramount among them is forming a consistent basis to evaluate the safety of dams and levees and prioritize the implementation of risk reduction measures in a consistent manner across the agency to best utilize available resources. This requires knowledge of what constitutes unacceptable risks that would require risk reduction actions. The Tolerable Risk Guidelines (TRG) were developed for this purpose, and to form a common basis for dam and levee safety evaluations and decisions. Protection of life is paramount, and there are four TRG related to (1) understanding the risks surrounding dams and levees, (2) building risk awareness, (3) fulfilling daily responsibilities, and (4) continually considering actions to reduce risks. The USACE policies have evolved over time, but the fundamental principles that underpin the TRG have been fairly consistent for the past 10 years. The evolution of the TRG have come as a result of the experiences using these principles to support more than 2,500 safety decisions. This paper describes the rationale behind the selection of the TRG.
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Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is the science of predicting momentum, mass and heat transport, and can aid in design and safety issues for dam resilience in modern settings. Applications of CFD have historically been in the aerospace, automotive and chemical process industries with limited application in the hydraulic engineering field; possibly due to the associated computational intensity that is typically required. However, over the past two decades the cost of computing power has decreased substantially while the processing speed has increased exponentially. These developments have now made the application of CFD in the commercial environment feasible. CFD is particularly valuable in complex flow situations where the outputs required cannot be provided by a traditional hydraulic assessment approach and where there are stakeholder drivers such as service life, insurance cover and safety implications of infrastructure. The need for CFD when these drivers and complex flow situations arise, are demonstrated by means of a case study.
In the case study, CFD was used to investigate the flow patterns and the predicted performance of the outlet pipework from Massingir Dam in Mozambique. Three flow scenarios with appropriate pressure and flow boundary conditions were analysed for the outlet pipework, which included bifurcations for power generation from the main discharge conduits. Specific concerns addressed were, firstly, the possible excessive negative pressure in the region of the offtake for power generation and the potential for cavitation effects and, secondly, unacceptable velocity gradients in the power offtake pipework. Results showed that although some negative pressures were possible in one flow scenario, mitigation measures based on the CFD outputs could be considered and designed before construction.
The implementation of CFD in the above case study displays how risk in design can be reduced to ensure safety issues are addressed effectively.
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.
Trustpower’s Mahinerangi Dam in New Zealand’s South Island is a concrete arch and gravity abutment dam built in 1931, subsequently raised in 1946 and strengthened with tie-down anchors in 1961.
This paper discusses a 3D finite element analysis of the dam and the predicted performance of the arch section under Safety Evaluation Earthquake (SEE) loading against identified potential failure modes.
Current guidelines and recent seismic hazard assessments recommend earthquake loadings higher than what was originally accounted for in previous decades. A Comprehensive Safety Review identified stability under SEE loading as a potential deficiency, so a programme of works was commenced to evaluate and better understand the seismic risk by using modern day tools and technology to evaluate the dam against current performance standards.
The final model incorporated the results of extensive laboratory testing, high-resolution LiDAR survey data and dynamic calibration using ambient-vibration monitoring. Motion recordings across the face of the dam during the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake were also used to validate the model. The reservoir has been explicitly modelled together with the opening, closing and sliding of contraction joints and the foundation interface. This allowed the modelling of permanent displacements and the redistribution of loads within the dam under SEE loading, which had been shown to be an important behaviour from the previous stages of analysis.
Design Review Boards or Panels play an important role in supporting owners and designers in creating resilient design of water storage and tailings dams. Their essential roles are to constructively challenge the project team to deliver on the project objectives through a design which meets the 3R’s of resilience, robustness and reliability, and to provide assurance to potentially non-technical owner / project management. This can sometimes create an uncomfortable situation if one or more of the project team is not aligned with the agreed criteria. Time and cost pressures can often push a project or execution team to undertake insufficient analysis or to consider non-justifiable construction processes or shortcuts.
Regardless, the Review Board must remain steadfast in their advice and guidance with a strong focus on “data-supported decisions”. Finding and maintaining an effective board requires commitment at the highest levels. This paper will examine some of the challenges in addressing governance, membership and turnover, and conflict resolution.
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.