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The role of judgement in risk assessments as applied in dam safety management has been the source of considerable debate in recent years. With regard to risk analysis of dams, and while there is general agreement that judgement is an essential element of the process, essentially two schools of thought have emerged. One view holds that, in the assignment of probabilities, reliance can be based on collective engineering judgement that is anchored to a knowledge base. The second view holds that judgement should be based on the knowledge that is revealed by an appropriate amount of analysis. The paper, written from the perspective of the latter view, explores some of the underlying issues in this debate.
The role of judgement in risk evaluation, the process of judging the significance of risk, is considered to be equally important. However, the process of making value judgements and statements of principles is complex and often beyond the sphere of engineering. The third issue addressed in the paper concerns the search for answers to the question, “How good is the assessment?”
A strategy designed to ensure that an existing dam continues to perform effectively will include:
This paper will explore each of these issues and how they may be applied to dams in a variety of situations. These situations include water supply reservoirs, flood retarding basins, levees and wastewater lagoons. While each situation is different, the underlying principles will remain consistent. The range of situations encountered by Victorian Water Authorities provides the inspiration for the development of an efficient approach to the management of the safety of dams.
Robert E Saunders
The vast majority of dams in Australia are relatively small affairs. For example, approximately 90% of Queensland’ referable dams are less than 15 m in height. Most of these dams are owned by small communities, mining companies or farmers, many of which have smaller operations than those of Australia’s larger dam owners. In many cases the dam represents the owner’s sole source of water supply.
Many smaller dam owners are unaware of the key factors affecting the safety and best management of their facilities. Added to this is a general lack of understanding of dam related issues by the community at large. This often leads to significant owner and community concerns (and conflicts) that have the potential to jeopardise the viability, or worse, the safety of a project. The relative importance of the dam to the smaller dam owner often exacerbates these issues.
This paper serves to illustrate, by way of example, a consultant’s viewpoint of some of the issues encountered on small dam projects and suggests actions that the dams industry as whole could take to improve the situation.
Andrew Day, Rod Bridges and Corrado Fabbri
A joint venture between Astaldi SpA of Italy and Thiess Contractors Pty Ltd of Australia (ATJO) has just completed a 95m high roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The dam which includes 528,000m’ of RCC was completed in September 1999 and will provide hydro-electric power for a nearby nickel smelting operation.
One of the largest RCC dams built in the region in recent times, the construction presented a number of unique challenges in particular placing techniques to cope with the heavy rainfall in the area as well the logistics to this remote location. Other aspects which are addressed in the paper include production rates, RCC placing systems (Rotec), dam formwork systems, aggregate sources, RCC mixes and waterproofing (membrane).
After early problems with the river diversion, the works were accelerated and completed to a very tight program. To enable dam construction to commence prior to river diversion the wall was advanced as a series of separate monoliths which led to a number of RCC placing innovations.
Jim Walker, Murray Gillon and John Grimston
Karapiro Dam is at the end of a cascade of hydropower dams on the Waikato River in New Zealand’s North Island. The 52m high, high hazard, arch dam retains the lake for a 96MW power station at its downstream toe. Safety reviews recommended a re-evaluation of the dam stability under seismic loading.
Dam owner, Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ), commissioned consultants Tonkin & Taylor Ltd to carry out a series of studies and investigations which provided better understanding of the dam’s safety status. Investigations located a previously unrecorded continuous low strength thrust fault underlying the left abutment. This provided the potential for movement of the left abutment gravity blocks under earthquake loading, with adverse effects on arch dam and reservoir safety. Investigations showed the abutment cut off walls to be lower than the PMF lake level. High groundwater levels and erodible pumiceous soils were found at the left abutment. These findings prompted ECNZ to implement stability enhancement works.
This paper describes the studies and investigations, peer review process, and design and construction of enhancement works.