The purpose of this paper is to document a limited review of the existing concrete chute spillways in the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) portfolio of dams. This internal review was undertaken in response to the partial spillway failure of the Oroville Dam concrete chute spillway in February 2017, the partial spillway failure of the Guajataca Dam concrete chute spillway as a result of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, and to address the request by the United States Congress for USACE, United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review their respective portfolios for similar spillway vulnerabilities as Oroville Dam. The intent was to screen for existing concrete chute spillways within the USACE portfolio that may be susceptible to damage/failure during operation.
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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.
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.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has a robust Dam Safety Program (DSP) that utilizes risk- informed decision-making to prioritize its portfolio of dams in need of further study and modifications. USACE also utilizes a two-tiered governance structure in which one body makes portfolio recommendations around risk management while the other body oversees the execution of the agency’s routine DSP and makes policy recommendations. The routine program consists of the activities required for interim risk reduction measures, inspections, instrumentation, monitoring, assessments, operations and maintenance, emergency action planning, training, and other dam safety activities. An internal program management tool exists to monitor and track all these activities and generate metrics around execution of the routine DSP, however, it does not include metrics around other aspects of the DSP like governance, asset management, public safety and security, flow controls, or audits/reviews. USACE hopes to identify gaps in its DSP that can be used to correct shortcomings, continuously improve, and to increase the resilience of its DSP, which will enable each project to deliver benefits to the Nation. The Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI), through its Dam Safety Interest Group (DSIG), collaboratively developed a spreadsheet tool known as the Dam Safety Maturity Matrix (DSMM). The DSMM is a facilitated exercise used to help evaluate how well-developed a program is across 12 elements considered to be typical and important of most dam safety programs. Each of the elements is then deaggregated into sub-elements, each of which can be evaluated by the team. The maturity ranges across 5 levels from Needing Improvement to Leading Edge. After all sub-elements are evaluated, an aggregate maturity level is computed that gives an estimation of the overall maturity level of the program. USACE will present the results of its pilot project using the DSMM and share lessons learned regarding its implementation. The short-term goal is to identify program strengths and areas for improvement, while the long-term goal of USACE using the DSMM is to participate in bench- marking across multiple agencies and international dam owners regarding their dam safety programs, for which has never been done to the knowledge of this author.
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.
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.