Guidelines on Design Criteria for Concrete Gravity Dams (September 2013)


CGD coverWithin about ten years of the 1991 edition of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Design Criteria for Concrete Gravity Dams being published the Limit State design approach it proposed fell out of favour with Australian dam engineers.  The ANCOLD Executive recognised this situation and resolved that the Guidelines be revised to reflect the preferred design approach amongst Australian dam engineers.  A Working Group and a separate Expert Review Panel were formed in 2005 to review the Guidelines with the intention of preparing a document that was not only more in line with the current thinking but would also be widely adopted and used by practicing dam engineers.

It has not been an easy task for the Working Group and the Expert Review Panel.  Although the working stress method, with associated Factors of Safety, approach was agreed amongst the team, it took considerable time and effort to reach consensus on the details, in particular chapters four through to six.  The issue that took most effort to resolve was how the Factors of Safety relate to the level of certainty of the inputs, including knowledge of the foundations, loads, strength of materials and assumed mechanically feasible failure surfaces.  The notes to Table 6.4.1 and the discussion in Appendix A highlight this issue.

One thing the drafting team agreed on early, and unanimously, was the importance of the concrete gravity dam design team having a thorough understanding of the foundation conditions, the development of a detailed geological model of the foundations and an understanding of the kinematically feasible failure mechanisms. In keeping with this principle, this revision of the guidelines has the section on foundations at the front of the document.  There is a strong recommendation that the design team has expertise covering foundation geology and rock mechanics as well as the dam engineer.

These Guidelines provide a basis for design of concrete gravity dams in most situations. However, they require that the user will be a professional dam engineer with significant experience who is able to use sound engineering judgement in the application of the guidelines. It is recommended that less experienced dam engineers using these guidelines do so under the advice and guidance of an experienced dam engineer. It is the dam engineer who is responsible for the design.

On behalf of ANCOLD I would like to thank the members of the working group and all the other contributors that persevered in developing and bringing these Guidelines to fruition. They will be of great assistance to dam engineering professionals both within Australia and internationally.

Ian Landon-Jones
Chairman, ANCOLD