Dambreak & Consequences (September 2013) – MODULES 1 to 5
An understanding of the consequences of dam failure is essential in dam safety emergency planning and as an input to risk assessment. In recent years there has been significant advances in hydraulic modelling and access to high quality elevation data which has revolutionised dambreak modelling. The advent of risk based approaches has increased the focus on estimating the consequence of dam failure and particularly the potential loss of life. The method developed by the USBR in 1999 has had widespread application in Australia and in recent years a number of more sophisticated simulation approaches have been developed. This session will cover the latest developments in dambreak modelling and the estimation of potential loss of life from dam failure.
This course is designed to present the state of practice on these matters for dam safety risk management. The 2 days are designed for both experienced and less experienced dam owners, regulators and consultants.
Includes access to the following videos:
$0.00 - $80.00
David Stephens, Peter Hill, Rory Nathan
The estimation of incremental consequences of dam failure often requires consideration of coincident flows in downstream tributaries. In the past overly simplistic assumptions have often been adopted. Examples include an assumption that flows in downstream tributaries are negligible, equivalent to the 1 in 100 Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) flood, the mean annual flood or the flood of record. Experience has shown that these assumptions often underestimate coincident flows, particularly for extreme events approaching the AEP of the Probable Maximum Precipitation. Additionally, the justification for adopting these techniques is usually driven by ease of use rather than the degree to which they represent the relevant physical processes at play. For some dams, these techniques may have a negligible influence on the overall consequence assessment. However, there are many dams for which an improved understanding of coincident flows using a joint probabilistic framework can result in significantly altered estimates of the natural flood and dambreak flood inundation zone. This can frequently lead to the consequences of the natural flood being larger than would otherwise have been the case, leading to a reduction in incremental consequences. Two examples of such situations are presented, including a description of the techniques used to estimate coincident flows and a discussion on likely influence of these flow estimates on incremental consequences. These examples are then used to draw some general principles for the types of dams at which an improved understanding of coincident flows is warranted.
Keywords: dam failure, coincident, joint probability, consequence assessment
The ANCOLD (2003) Guidelines on Risk Assessment contain criteria regarding the tolerable level of individual risk from dam failure. Maslin et al. (2012) describe an approach to estimating individual risk from dam failure, using exposure factors, warning and evacuation factors, and fatality factors. These factors vary according to the people at risk, the anticipated warning time, the flood severity and the shelter people are likely to be in. Maslin et al. (2012) provide step-by-step instructions, which means their approach can be applied in a consistent manner from dam to dam. However, the recommended fatality factors are based on Graham (1999) and DHS (2011) definitions of high, medium and low severity flooding which have been superseded by the Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM). Therefore, in this paper modifications to the Maslin et al. (2012) approach are proposed, so that estimates of individual risk from dam failure are consistent with RCEM-based estimates of societal risk. The paper then concludes with two predictions about how the assessment and use of individual risk in Australian dam safety management may change in future.
Peter Hill, David Stephens, Kelly Maslin, Rachel Brown, Simon Lang, and Chriselyn Meneses
There has been a growing awareness of the potential dam safety risks associated with hydraulic structures in urban environments such as retarding basins, water quality detention basins and recreational lakes. This has required estimates of rare and extreme floods for urban catchments and there are a number of important characteristics of urban catchments which distinguish them from rural catchments such as impervious areas, lack of streamflow data, blockage of structures and complex hydraulics. This paper describes the key considerations for flood estimation in urban catchments and draws examples from a number of current flood studies for urban catchments in Canberra.
Mark Pearse, Peter Hill
Risk assessments for large dams and the design of upgrades are often dependent on estimates of peak inflows and outflows well beyond those observed in the historic record. The flood frequencies are therefore simulated using rainfall-runoff models and design rainfalls. The recent update of Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) has revised the design rainfalls used to model floods that are of interest to dam owners. This will change the best estimate of flood frequencies for some dams. However, for most dams the impact of revised design rainfalls on flood frequencies is small compared to other factors that can change (independent of dam upgrades). These include model re-calibrations to larger floods, changes to operating procedures that affect the drawdown distribution and improvements in how the joint probabilities of flood causing factors are simulated. In this paper, we look at how the design flood frequencies for some of Australia’s large dams have changed, the reasons for this and then identify five key questions for dam owners to ask to aid assessment of whether the hydrology for a dam should be reviewed
Simon Lang, Peter Hill, Wayne Graham
The empirical method developed by Graham (1999) is the most widely used in Australia to estimate potential loss of life from dam failure. It is likely to remain that way while spatially based dynamic simulation models are not publicly available (e.g. LIFESim, HEC-FIA and LSM). When the Graham (1999) approach was first developed the prevalence of spatial data and the speed of computers was much less. In addition, most people did not have mobile phones, social media was in its infancy, and automatic emergency alert telephone systems were 10 years from being used in Australia. Graham (1999) was intended to be applied to populations at risk (PAR) lumped into a discrete number of reaches. The selection of fatality rates for the PAR in each reach was based on average flood severity and dam failure warning times. Today, there is typically much more spatially distributed data available to those doing dam failure consequence assessments. Often a property database is available that identifies the location of each individual building where PAR may be, along with estimates of flood depths and velocities at those buildings. News of severe flooding is likely to be circulated by Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, in conjunction with official warnings provided by emergency agencies through radio and television and emergency alert telephone systems.
This raises the question of how Graham (1999) is best applied in today’s digital age. This paper explores some of the issues, including the estimation of dam failure warning time, using Graham (1999) to estimate loss of life in individual buildings and the suitability of Graham (1999) for estimating loss of life for very large PAR.
Keywords: loss of life, dam safety, risk analysis.