Gavan Hunter, Andrew Pattle and Mark Foster
A piping incident occurred during first filling of Rowallan Dam, Tasmania in 1968. The incident occurred at the interface of the embankment with the spillway wall, a 15 m high near vertical wall, where the contact earthfill eroded into the single stage downstream filter. Repairs were undertaken in 1968/1969 and the reservoir has operated largely without incident since.
A risk assessment in 2009 identified that piping through the embankment at the spillway wall interface remained a significant dam safety risk. Investigations in 2010 encountered cracking within the earthfill core at the spillway wall interface.
Dam safety upgrade works were undertaken in 2014/15 to address the piping failure mode at the spillway walls and also within the upper portion of the embankment. The works required excavation down to a rock foundation at depths up to 18 m adjacent to the spillway walls and this excavation provided an unusual opportunity to closely examine active piping features that had been preserved when interim repairs in 1968/69 had arrested the progression of piping. The repair comprised reconstruction of a significant portion of the embankment at the spillway and the reconstruction of the upper 7 m of the crest, which included dual filters downstream of the earthfill core.
The findings from the forensic investigations of the deep excavations adjacent to the right spillway wall are described in this paper along with a summary of finding from the 1968/69 repair works and a discussion of the piping mechanism at the spillway wall. The paper also covers the design and construction of the repair work. The focus of this paper is on advancements in our understanding of piping risk arising from the Rowallan Dam work.
In conclusion, (i) the upgrade works successfully reduced the dam safety risk of Rowallan Dam; (ii) the findings support the methodologies of the piping toolbox; (iii) the case study provides insight into filtering and crack filling mechanisms that have a broader implication for estimating the risks of internal erosion within existing dams; and (iv) the findings support the assessment of the low residual risks for piping through the embankment away from the upgrade work areas (crest reconstruction and spillway walls).
Keywords: Earth and rockfill embankment, piping incident, piping mechanism, dam safety upgrade.
David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
J.H. Green; C. Beesley; C. The and S. Podger
Rare design rainfalls for probabilities less frequent than 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) are an essential part of spillway adequacy assessment as they enable more accurate definition of the design rainfall and flood frequency curves between the 1% AEP and Probable Maximum events.
Estimates for rare design rainfalls were previously derived using the CRC-FORGE method which was developed in the 1990s. However, as the method was applied on a state-by-state basis, there are variations in the approach adopted for each region. Differences in the cut-off period for data, the amount of quality controlling of the data undertaken, the base used for the 2% AEP estimates, gridding settings and smoothing processes have created inconsistencies which are particularly apparent in overlapping state border areas.
The Bureau of Meteorology has derived new rare design rainfalls for the whole of Australia using the extensive, quality-controlled rainfall database established for the new Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD) design rainfalls. These data have been analysed using a regional LH-moments approach which is more consistent with the method used to derive the new IFDs and which overcomes the limitations of the spatial dependence model in the CRC-FORGE method. In particular, the selection and verification of homogenous regions and the identification of the most appropriate regional probability distribution to adopt relied heavily on the outcomes of the testing of methods undertaken for the new IFDs. However, to focus the analysis on the rarer rainfall events, only the largest events have been used to define the LH-moments.
Keywords: Rare design rainfalls; Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD); Annual Exceedance Probability
Sarah McComber, Peyman Bozorgmehr
Boondooma Dam is a concrete-faced rockfill dam with an unlined, uncontrolled spillway chute. Construction was scheduled for completion in 1983; however a spill event occurred during the last stage.of construction Following this spill event an Erosion Control Structure (ECS) was built across the spillway chute to help mitigate any future scouring.
The spillway performed as expected during minor spill events in the 1990s and early 2000s. During the significant rainfall event of 2010/11, significant scour occurred to the spillway chute and downstream of the ECS, as a result of the spillway operation.
Following the 2010/11 flood, emergency repairs were made and long term repair solutions were investigated. However, during Tropical Cyclone Oswald in January 2013, the dam experienced the flood of record, and further scour occurred in the spillway chute.
The long term repair solution was reviewed in light of the 2013 damage. A solution is required that would satisfy the engineering problem and prevent further damage, while satisfying the commercial considerations faced by dam owners, insurers, customers and downstream stakeholders.
Keywords: Boondooma Dam, flood damage, scour damage, commercial engineering solutions.
Michael Bassett-Foss , David Bouma , Dewi Knappstein
The Wairarapa Water Use Project (WWUP) in the southern North Island, New Zealand, is investigating new water storage schemes involving large dams that will allow the community to make use of the water resources that are currently available, but not necessarily available at the time they are needed. It is estimated that the 12,000 hectares currently irrigated in the Wairarapa could be increased to about 42,000 hectares depending on actual demand. The WWUP provides for a range of possible needs, such as supply of new areas of irrigation, increased reliability for existing irrigation and frost fighting, environmental augmentation of low summer river flows, environmental flushing flows, stock drinking water, power generation, municipal water supply, and recreational use.
WWUP objectives include early engagement of stakeholders, early integration of financial, social, cultural and environmental factors in decision-making, management of uncertainty associated with the preliminary level of investigation and evolving regulatory framework, development of an equitable framework for efficiently comparing options, and balancing long and short-term considerations.
A large number of dam options were identified, storing 3 to 80 million m3 of water, and progressively narrowed to a shortlist of 2 sites through a complex process of concept development, desktop studies, site visits, hydrological analyses, cost estimates and multi-criteria analyses.
The WWUP demonstrates how sustainable new major water storage schemes can be promoted in a highly regulated environment of a developed nation.
Keywords: Dams, water storage, stakeholder engagement, environment, water allocation, multi-criteria analysis
This paper discusses the common environmental issues and requirements project lenders have when financing hydropower dam projects in developing countries. The environmental specialist’s role, as part of the Lender’s Technical Advisor team, is discussed throughout the main phases of project finance (credit approval, financial close, lending/construction and loan repayment/operation). Further, how environmental issues are reviewed and monitored, thereby minimising reputational risks to the lenders are outlined.
Lenders typically consider hydropower dam financing, especially reservoir schemes, as high reputational risk loans. Finance is usually syndicated and although most international lenders are Equator Principles signatories or use the International Financing Corporations (IFC) Performance Standards, some lenders have additional environmental guidelines and requirements to enable financing. These differences are discussed.
Common environmental concerns include loss of habitat of endangered and/or threatened species, changes to river flows, erosion and sediment control during construction, and the minimisation and disposal of project wastes.
These issues are discussed drawing on the author’s experience in monitoring environmental issues of hydropower projects in Asia Pacific and Africa, including both smaller run-of-river schemes and larger storage reservoir projects.
Keywords: Environment, impacts, project financing, concerns, lenders, lenders technical advisor.