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.
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This paper discusses the current regulatory requirements and guidelines, which address to varying degrees the need for recovery controls and the engagement of Owners with Impacted Communities (ICs) within a Dam Safety Emergency Response Plan. The planning and application of appropriate recovery controls, which are applicable from the moment of failure, help to build resilience and reduce the ultimate consequence of TSF failure. The application of such controls, developed with close engagement with impacted communities has a strong precedent, being recommended as a result of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) review of good practice for emergency preparedness (Emery, 2005).
This paper presents a simple method to assess various recovery controls, with risk minimisation as its basis, and the use of existing risk assessment techniques such as bow-tie diagrams or the inclusion of recovery controls to other qualitative assessment methods. This will be illustrated through application to some relevant historical TSF failures.
The notion of probability and its various interpretations brings numerous opportunities for errors and misunderstandings. This is particularly true of contemporary risk analysis for dams that mostly consider geotechnical, hydraulic, and structural capacities subjected to extreme loads considered as independent evets. In these analyses subjective “degree of belief” probability has a major role, both in the modelling of the risk in the system by means of event trees based on inductive reasoning and in the assignment of probabilities to events in the event tree. There are numerous situations where physically possible conditions are eliminated from consideration in a risk analysis on the basis of probabilities that are judged to be too low to be of relevance. This is despite the fact that the assignment of a probability to a condition means that the occurrence of the event or condition is inevitable sometime, with the added complication that the time of occurrence is unknown and unknowable. Although there is no relationship between a remote probability and the possibility (or credibility) of the occurrence of the event in the event tree, it is quite common for physically feasible conditions to be either eliminated or their importance discounted on the basis of low probability in a risk assessment of a dam. Twenty five years ago, this elimination process might have been referred to as “judicious pruning of the event tree”. In more modern parlance, the elimination process is based on consideration of whether or not the condition or sequence of events is clearly so remote a possibility as to be non-credible or not reasonable to postulate. In contrast to the consideration of extreme loads vs. structural or geotechnical capacities, experience has shown that many dam failures and perhaps the majority of dam incidents do not result from extreme geophysical loads, but rather from operational factors. These incidents and failures occur because an unusual combination of reasonably common events occurs, and that unusual combination of events has a bad outcome. For example, a moderately high reservoir inflow occurs, but nowhere near extreme; the sensor and SCADA system fail to provide early warning for some unanticipated reason; one or more spillway gates are unavailable due to maintenance, or an operator makes an error, or there is no operator on site and it takes a long time for one to arrive; and the pool was uncommonly high at the time. This chain of reasonable events, none by itself particularly dangerous, can in combination lead to an incident or even a failure. This leads to the unnerving conclusions that; our estimates of risk made in terms of best available practice using the best available estimates will be underestimates of the actual risk, and the extent to which we underestimate the risk is unknowable. This paper examines why these improbable events occur and what can be done to prevent them. Some implications with respect to the endeavour of risk evaluation are also considered.
The development of geological, engineering geological and geotechnical models is essential for all dams. These models provide the basis for understanding the engineering characteristics of foundation materials and geological structures that are critical to the safe design, construction and operation of the dam.
The use of digital three dimensional (3D) engineering geological modelling techniques is becoming more common for civil infrastructure projects. In addition to established design applications, 3D engineering geological models can be utilised by dam owners, operators and stakeholders for ongoing management of the dam.
The recent option studies at North Pine Dam in Brisbane, Australia, provides an example of collaboration between the owner (Seqwater) and the designer (GHD) to maximise the use of existing information and to enable future information to be efficiently integrated and utilised.
The initial North Pine Dam 3D engineering geological model was developed using historical records dating from the design and construction of the dam in the 1950’s and 1960’s. These records had been carefully stored, collated and digitised by the owner, so that they could be easily georeferenced and incorporated into the 3D engineering geological model.
The initial model was interrogated to identify data gaps and to plan targeted and cost-effective investigations that addressed critical geotechnical issues. The 3D engineering geological model was further refined using the newly acquired data, to develop a comprehensive “3D database” that can be used to visualise and interrogate all existing records as high- resolution georeferenced images and embedded data.
This provides an asset for the dam owner to maximise the use of existing information and reduce the cost of future safety reviews or design.
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.