2017 – Construction Flood Risk Strategies for Dam Upgrades

Colleen Baker, Sean Ladiges, Peter Buchanan, James Willey, Malcolm Barker

Dam Owners and Designers are often posed with the question “what is an acceptable flood risk to adopt during the construction of dam upgrade works?” Both the current ANCOLD Guidelines on Acceptable Flood Capacity (2000) and the draft Guidelines on Acceptable Flood Capacity (2016) provide guidance on the acceptability of flood risk during the construction phase. The overarching principle in both the current and draft documents is that the dam safety risk should be no greater than prior to the works, unless it can be shown that this cannot reasonably be achieved.Typically with dam upgrade projects it is not feasible to take reservoirs off-line during upgrade works, with commercial and societal considerations taking precedent. It is therefore often necessary to operate the reservoir at normal levels or with only limited drawdown. The implementation of measures to maintain the risk at or below that of the pre-upgraded dam can have significant financial and program impacts on projects, such as through the construction of elaborate cofferdam arrangements and/or staging of works. This is particularly the case where upgrade works involve modifications to the dam’s spillway.The use of risk assessment has provided a reasonable basis for evaluating the existing and incremental risks associated with the works, such as the requirement for implementation of critical construction works during periods where floods are less likely, in order to justify the As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) position. This paper explores the ANCOLD guidelines addressing flood risk, and compares against international practice. The paper also presents a number of case studies of construction flood risk mitigation adopted for dam upgrades on some of Australia’s High and Extreme consequence dams, as well as international examples. The case studies demonstrate a range of construction approaches which enable compliance with the ANCOLD Acceptable Flood Capacity guidelines

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