Otago Regional Council (ORC) own and operate the Lower Taieri, Lower Clutha, and Alexandra Flood Protection Schemes. Collectively the schemes comprise over 220 km of earthfill levees, together with numerous appurtenant structures, such as major spillways, flood gates and pumping stations. The schemes provide flood protection to significant and varied communities and infrastructure adjacent to the Clutha and Taieri rivers, for example Dunedin Airport, and towns such as Balclutha and Outram. The works were constructed at various times since the 19th century to a range of standards, and assets are at various lifecycle stages.
Regular and systematic condition and structural integrity assessment is a key aspect of operating flood protection schemes for resilient communities. This can be challenging due to the large spatial extent of multiple schemes. Efficient and effective on-the-ground visual inspection of the entire network is key. A field assessment methodology was developed which combined on-the-ground visual assessment with innovative use of GIS technology, for field data capture, recording, analysis and presentation.
The structural assessment methodology used LiDAR-derived digital elevation models (DEMs) integrated with the field data to screen the levee networks based on geometry condition, to identify critical locations for analysis. Levee susceptibility to hazards such as overtopping scour, piping, seismic performance and slope instability was assessed utilising a semi-quantitative multi criteria analysis. Subsequent efforts were focused on critical locations enabling analysis which would not be efficient on a scheme-wide scale. An outcome included a GIS database to enable rapid future review of asset information and condition.
The assessment coincided with the July 2017 Taieri River flood – the largest event in almost forty years, and a timely reminder of the importance of flood protection infrastructure for community resilience. This event also highlighted the importance of making use of such events to field-truth assessment results and test assumptions about scheme performance and vulnerable locations.
Dam owners manage many complex activities to maintain and operate their dams safely and resiliently. Identifying, and continually improving, the key elements of an effective dam safety program and associated practices can be challenging but are essential to support resilient dams and resilient communities; using the Dam Safety Maturity Matrices (DSMM) is an efficient and thorough way to do this. A maturity matrix is a tool to evaluate how well-developed and effective a process or program is. The matrices were developed within CEATI’s Dam Safety Interest Group (DSIG) for owners to assess the effectiveness of their dam safety program against industry practice, and to assist with identifying improvement initiatives.
This paper will present the matrices and demonstrate how they are used to evaluate the effectiveness (or maturity) of a dam safety program. It will also highlight the benefits associated with using the matrices as an assessment tool, including the identification of improvements that can be made to a dam safety program, and the prioritization of efforts across multiple facets of a dam safety program.
User case studies from dam owners in both New Zealand and overseas will be presented to elaborate on the tool and the process.
Leslie Harrison Dam is located on Tingalpa Creek in the Redlands region, approximately 18 km southeast of Brisbane. It is classified as an extreme hazard category dam with a large population at risk only a short distance downstream.
The dam comprises a 25 m high zoned earthfill embankment, with a dry well concrete intake tower and an outlet conduit located at the base of the dam near the old river channel. The spillway has a 43 m wide concrete gravity ogee crest, with a concrete lined chute terminating in an energy dissipator structure.
Seqwater is undertaking a staged upgrade of Leslie Harrison Dam to address deficiencies identified during the Portfolio Risk Assessment (URS 2013) and Geotechnical Investigations (GHD 2016).
While the dam has met the water supply needs of the community for the past 50 years, the upgrade ensures local residents will be well served into the future. Additionally, the structure will meet the most up to date requirements of dam safety management and national industry standards.
Construction of the Stage 1 upgrade commenced in June 2018 and involved the removal and replacement of liquefiable material in the foundation, modernisation and extension of the outlet works, addition of a new downstream filter buttress to the embankment, and lastly, the installation of both active and passive anchors within the spillway ogee and lower chute floor.
As with any major project, the works involved a number of challenges that had to be addressed. This paper provides an insight into the key challenges encountered and how these were overcome by the design and construction teams using practical engineered solutions. The intent is to provide the reader with an account of the “lessons learned” during the construction phase, along with recommendations for future dam upgrades.
The majority of Australian tailings dams over the last 100 years have been successfully built using upstream construction. However, recent major tailings dam failures in some countries have led to a global industry wide review of the design and management of tailings storage facilities, with a focus on the upstream raise method as a common factor for some failures. As a reaction to the recent failures, there is the potential for regulations to become more restrictive and the potential for unjustified pressure on existing and new mines to rule out upstream raising due to possible safety and failure risks.
This paper looks at whether it is the upstream construction method or other more fundamental issues that have led to these failures and examines whether such issues are equally relevant in Australia. Does Australia have a specific advantage in being able to successfully use upstream tailings dam construction or are we fooling ourselves?
The topic of upstream tailings storage is a subject of broad and current interest and the lessons learned from historic failures are rightfully leading to improvements. Implementation of good practice starts with the overall management structure that guides how tailings dams are designed, constructed, operated and closed.
Critical design practice involves understanding the unique site conditions, properties of the tailings and management of tailings placement, as the tailings form part of the overall retaining structure. Good practice during operation of upstream tailings dams is key to reducing the risk of tailings dam failures and the success of safe and sustainable closure.
This paper presents key features of both good and bad practice for the upstream raising of tailings dams and discusses how the design and operation can be made more resilient to ensure the safety of the community and infrastructure. It concludes that upstream raising can be a safe and economical method of tailings disposal if designed, constructed and operated correctly.
Many dams have low level outlets, most of them put in place as diversion structures during construction. However, once dam construction is complete and reservoir filling begins, the reality is that low level outlets are used very infrequently, and sometimes not at all.
This paper will discuss the merits of decommissioning low level outlets vs maintaining them as operational dam safety critical equipment. In this context the paper will examine the criticality of low level outlets in relation to the type of dam, the Potential Impact Category of the dam, the ratio between outlet capacity and mean reservoir inflows, possible resource consent issues and required maintenance and testing regimes.
Trustpower’s dam portfolio consists of a variety of dam types with multiple different types of low level outlets. Case studies from the portfolio will be used as arguments for maintaining or decommissioning the low level outlets in order to develop evaluation criteria for low level outlets and provide a basis for how to treat them from a wider dam safety perspective.
Vietnam has many embankment dams to supply water to the agricultural sector. Most of these dams were built between 1970 and 2000 but have degraded significantly since their construction due to a number of different reasons. Identifying the main potential failure modes for these dams aims to improve their dam safety management systems as well as help to target dam safety rehabilitation works. The research was conducted by analysing 207 Dam Safety Reports and Feasibility Studies published by the Vietnamese Ministry for Agricultural and Rural Development between 2017 and 2019. The priority level of rehabilitation required to these dams was assessed by analysing whether overtopping, seepage and slope stability related potential failure modes were likely to occur. The results revealed the main potential failure modes of embankment dams in Vietnam and the possible reasons for these are discussed. The approaches to rehabilitate the dams that are outlined in the Feasibility Studies were also analysed and are discussed in general terms. The results provide valuable insight into commonly encountered dam safety issues with embankment dams in Vietnam.