Management of dams requires the use of experienced dam engineers and other competent personnel familiar with all relevant basic principles, technical guidelines, articles and manuals. This requires appropriate qualifications, registrations and adequate knowledge and experience relevant to the type of dam and the task required.
Engineering services in Queensland must comply with the Professional Engineers Act 2002 which requires a registered professional engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) to undertake or directly supervise an engineering service. Attributes in addition to RPEQ are recommended for personnel responsible for dam safety management. Inputs are often required from non -engineering technical specialists, such as geologists. Supervising these inputs in the context of meeting the Professional Engineers Act 2002 should be considered.
A matrix of skills for dam safety management personnel has been prepared as part of the Queensland dam safety management guideline and subject to extensive stakeholder feedback in its preparation. The matrix consists of a list of roles typically required for dam safety management and, for each role, a corresponding set of recommended core attributes.
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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.
Ryan Singh, Jiri Herza, James Thorp, Michael Ashley
Performance-based risk-informed decision making is an underlying principle of the Global Industry
Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM). While owners make significant efforts to align with this
principle, commonly used risk assessment and management practices in the mining industry have largely been based on the HSE principles, which consider more frequent, lower consequence incidents.
As a result, the existing risk assessment frameworks do not provide the owners with a comprehensive understanding of the risk profiles of their tailings storage facilities (TSFs). Without the understanding of a facility’s risk profile, the owners cannot appreciate how changes to their facility, processes and operational activities may impact the risk profile. A large step-change in thinking is therefore required in risk assessment practices for the owner to align their TSF management with GISTM requirements.
Beyond risk assessments, the mining industry has other valuable concepts to manage the safety of their tailings management practices, such as Critical Controls, however, commonly used risk assessment and management practices do not incorporate these concepts.
This paper explores commonly used risk assessment practices and the concepts of Critical Controls. It proposes how these concepts can be linked, with Critical Controls being embedded in the risk assessment process. The outcomes of linking these concepts result in an estimation of the effectiveness of the Critical Controls and how they can be improved to demonstrably reduce the risk presented by a TSF. A case study has been included to demonstrate the benefits of linking risk assessment with Critical Controls and how owners can readily identify deficiencies and efficiently manage the risk profiles of their facilities.
Mark Pearse, Mark Foster, Peter Hill, Sam Banzi, Muhammad Hameed, Benson Liu
Determining which risk control measures are required is one of the top issues for dam owners as they contend with limited resources generally and capex in particular. The key issue addressed in this paper is how a dam owner can both identify the control measures that they should implement and demonstrate that they are acting reasonably and responsibly. The Framework developed in this paper provides a practical and transparent way to address the relevant matters that are required to be considered under common law, work, health and safety (WHS) legislation and the NSW Dams Safety legislation for determining whether a risk control measure is reasonably practicable. It provides dam owners with a transparent and defensible way of both identifying the controls and demonstrating that they are acting in a reasonable and responsible manner.
Christopher Dann, Chad Martin, Garry Fyfe, Nigel Rutherford
This paper presents a case study on remedial works that were undertaken at Lock and Weir One
along the River Murray, that to our knowledge are the first of their kind in Australia.
The weir structure’s left abutment is comprised of a stepped concrete structure founded on timber
piles, with timber sheet piles extending beneath the structure to cut off seepage through underlying
alluvium. A piping incident occurred at the left abutment in late 2014 and a filter blanket was
installed as an emergency response measure. A detailed review of historic construction documents
showed that there was a “missing” timber sheet pile upstream of the piping boil. Geotechnical
investigations, including piezometer installation confirmed the missing timber sheet pile was the
likely cause of the piping incident. A piping risk assessment showed the residual risk of further piping
was reasonably high.
A range of remedial works was considered as permanent risk reduction works. However, these
solutions required extensive temporary works to expose the missing timber sheet pile including a
cofferdam to access the defect and partial demolition of a recently constructed fishway structure.
An alternate Secant ‘Grout Column’ solution was developed that comprised targeted drilling and
backfill grouting to close the gap where the sheet pile was not installed and to grout an inferred void
under the abutment structure. This solution was successful at reducing seepage through the
abutment structure, as indicated by monitoring piezometers.
Regulatory risk for large civil engineering projects such as dams and hydropower schemes can be larger than the engineering risks. The seriousness of project regulatory risks is rarely acknowledged publicly and almost never dealt with contractually. The recent adoption by the World Bank of the FIDIC/ITA Emerald Book contractual framework introduces geotechnical baseline reports as a contractual mechanism for managing ground risk in World Bank hydro projects. Regulatory risks created by government agencies and utilities due to changing project requirements can likewise be managed by adopting the concept of geotechnical baselines to regulatory impositions as a baseline report.
Government agencies changing regulatory burdens mid project can fairly be held accountable for the
burdens of those changes by establishing regulatory baselines at the earliest stages of a project. By
contractually embedding regulatory risk baselines, governments and their agencies can adjust their
payments to reflect the changed cost in delivering an agreed project caused by regulatory changes. In this way the compensation for delivering a project more closely aligns with its value and cost. A regulatory baseline report in reducing project exposure due to regulatory change driven costs is a new tool in more efficient and competitive project delivery.
A transparent mechanism for costing regulatory change risk and apportioning it in accordance with pre agreed mechanisms, is an innovation of great use to the dam and hydropower sector.