Alberto Scuero, Gabriella Vaschetti, John Cowland
Efficiency in water supply reservoirs, even more so in pumped storage reservoirs, requires good water management and minimisation of water losses. With climate change affecting the quantity of water available for supply and power generation, minimising water losses is becoming more and more crucial, and the most efficient way to achieve this critical objective is to line the reservoir with a watertight geomembrane system. With more than 60 years of use, flexible geomembrane systems have proven to be a dependable technology for new construction as well as for rehabilitation. Efficiency can also be increased by covering the reservoir with a floating geomembrane cover to minimise evaporation losses, and by adding value to the reservoir with the installation of floating photovoltaic panel farms on the surface of the reservoir, to provide or increase electrical power generation. This paper addresses these two aspects of efficiency: water loss minimisation, by presenting concepts and advantages of geomembrane liners, and concepts and application
of floating photovoltaic farms with a case history in a water supply reservoir. The concept of a floating
photovoltaic farm on a pumped storage reservoir, and information on available guidelines for geomembrane systems and floating photovoltaic panels, are also presented.
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Thomas Ridgway, Nic Polmear, Hugh Tassell
All industries, inclusive of the dams and tailings industry use some form of monitoring and reporting to confirm items or services are functioning properly or correct. In engineering, we seek to use both manual and automated systems to both qualifiably and quantifiably define the suitability of a process or structure/item. As the dams industry continues to evolve with technology and with ongoing developments in stewardship expectations for both water dams and tailings dams the industry is beginning to move into automation of their instrumentation systems. This process has recently been undertaken at a mine in NSW with the development of both a near real-time survey monitoring and visualisation system as well as a monthly photographic assessment system. This paper will set out the process undertaken to assess the surveillance monitoring requirements for the mine, details of the design, implementation of a near real-time monitoring system and the difficulties associated with the work.
Chris Nielsen, Ron Guppy, Gary Hargraves, Robert Fowden
Dam safety upgrade projects of major dams typically involve a large capital investment. It is important that expenditure decisions are based on sound criteria, both technical and non-technical. Independent peer review of technical matters plays a key role in meeting design, construction and safety objectives within practical financial constraints and assuring robust, resilient and reliable project outcomes.
An independent technical review is recommended for all dam projects.
The Queensland dam safety regulator has developed guidelines associated with technical review for dam safety projects that considers scope and limitations, expertise and governance. The guidelines are informed by literature, recent projects, a commission of inquiry, internal and external review and industry feedback. The guidelines are being implemented across major dam safety upgrade business cases through preparation of terms of reference by the Queensland Government’s business planning and implementation entities, who maintain the responsibility of providing assurance to state government projects, as well as the state’s major dam owners.
The terms of reference, supported by the underlying principles in the guidelines, provide a platform for consistent and appropriate application of technical assurance to dam projects in Queensland. Among other matters, governance is highlighted as a critical factor for success as well as clarity of the roles, responsibilities and reporting lines of all parties. The application of both guidelines and terms of reference to recent projects is discussed.
Anna Hams, Lindsay Millard, Elizabeth Jackson, Zara Bostock, Helena Sutherland
The Queensland dam regulator requires that dam safety risk during construction must not increase from its existing profile. The Stage 2A upgrade of Ewen Maddock Dam required excavation of its homogeneous embankment to retrofit chimney and filter blankets, and also the construction of a concrete parapet wall. Due to the constraints of the embankment profile and a constricted site, it was necessary to excavate the downstream face of the embankment. This excavation increased the risk of embankment failure due to overtopping, piping and instability. This paper discusses the measures taken to manage those dam safety risks, and includes:
● use of a temporary system consisting of six large siphons to regulate the lake level to a Restricted Full Supply Level (Restricted FSL). This encompassed the optimisation of lake level and capacity of siphons required to balance competing risks; dam safety, environmental, community and water security. This optimisation was based on a probabilistic assessment of hydrological inflows and lake levels, the development of a flow management plan;
● implementation of a Dam Safety Management Plan which outlined the roles and responsibilities for
managing dam safety during construction at each pre-determined lake level trigger levels. This includes how the contractor was involved to ensure quick response from the “eyes and ears on the ground”; and,
● development of recommended construction methodologies including a “rolling front” and placing
filters vertically to increase production, maintain quality and limit the extent of embankment excavation underway.
Yuqi Tan, Behrooz Ghahreman-Nejad, Keith Seddon
Inadequate geotechnical investigation and hence undetected issues within the dam foundation have been responsible for many dam failures in the past. Fissured clay in the foundation poses a significant risk to the stability of the dam if it is not adequately detected and characterised. This paper presents a framework to evaluate the strength characteristics of fissured clay and its effect on the stability and performance of an embankment dam. The strength of fissured clay can be characterised from conventional triaxial test result based on the dip angle of the fissure plane. A design chart for the strength of the fissure has been developed based on the dip angle. The stability assessment for a tailings dam indicated that the dip angle of the fissure has significant impact on the overall stability of the embankment when the angle of the fissure aligns with the angle of the critical failure plane. Both fissure strength and fissure angle should be carefully evaluated for a site where fissured clay is observed.
Chris Nielsen, Irene Buckman
As individuals, we are concerned about how a risk affects us and the things we value
personally. We may be willing to live with a risk if it secures us certain benefits and if the
risk is kept low and clearly controlled. We are less tolerant of risks over which we have little
ANCOLD’s risk assessment guideline (2003) identifies an individual risk threshold as being
one where “the dam safety risk to an individual should be close to the average background
risk of the population”. This is a principle of equity, where “all individuals have
unconditional rights to certain levels of protection” (HSE, 2001). The definition of
population at risk applied to Queensland’s referable dams (DNRME, 2018), being
individuals within a residence or workplace and typically not participating in any risky
activities such as driving a vehicle or walking through flooded waters, provides further
justification of this right.
In practice addressing societal risk tolerances and duty of care considerations may result in
individual risks being substantially lower than the thresholds. This may not always be the
case and, irrespective, should not distort the purpose of the individual risk tolerance test;
the principle of equity that drives individual risk tolerability has foundations in our societal
values and is easily and widely understood as a core value. This should be succinctly
described when justifying expenditure on risky infrastructure such as dams.
This poster describes aspects to consider when selecting a threshold individual risk
tolerance. Subject to site-specific considerations of the particular age group of individuals
most at risk, the wider benefit of the dam to society and ALARP, a single threshold
individual risk tolerance of less than 10-5 per annum (or 1 in 100,000 years) would appear
The aspects described are elaborated in the revised Guidelines on Safety Standards for
Referable Dams, soon to be published on the Queensland Government website (RDMW,