Guidelines on the Consequence Categories for Dams (October 2012)
ANCOLD has prepared these important Guidelines to provide a consistent method of categorising the consequences of dam failure so that resources can be allocated according to the potential effects of failure on the general community.
These Guidelines replace the ANCOLD Guidelines on the Assessment of the Consequences of Dam Failure issued in May 2000 and follow a similar approach. However, they include quite significant changes aimed at providing enhanced description of Consequence Categories and making them easier and more consistent to use.
The Technical Working Group has made every effort to make these Guidelines straightforward to use by professional engineers and consistent with other ANCOLD guidelines.
However the complexity of determining the various parameters that make up each Consequence Category means that only experienced dam engineering professionals should interpret and use these Guidelines when making decisions that could impact on community safety, community cost and services, infrastructure, natural environment, heritage, and the owner’s and other businesses.
Since 2012, there have been a number of tragic tailings dam failures which have attracted world-wide attention. This revision is ANCOLD’s initial response to these events and other relevant matters.
Some of the important matters covered in this revision include reinforcement of the need for robust management practices, updates on earthquake considerations to align with the ANCOLD Guidelines for Design of Dams and Appurtenant Structures for Earthquake (2019) and additional information on static liquefaction.
In regard to management practices, the need for users of the Tailings Guidelines to also take account relevant aspects of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management (2003) must be emphasised. ANCOLD considers it essential that these two guidelines be used together by practitioners seeking to manage tailings dam safety.
ANCOLD is pleased to continue its contributions to the promotion of tailings dam safety. The work has been prepared through a great deal of voluntary work by the Tailings Dam Sub-Committee of ANCOLD, led by Mr David Brett.
As with all ANCOLD guidelines, this guideline is not a design code or standard and has been produced for the guidance of experienced practitioners who are required to apply their own professional skill and judgement in its application. Users must keep abreast of developments in the management and design of tailings dams and take those developments into account when using these guidelines.
The guidelines will again be reviewed when knowledge and practice have developed to a point when an update is required. Accordingly, ANCOLD welcomes comments from users and other interested parties.Learn more
In Australia we have a very diverse portfolio of dams, some regarded as being designed and constructed before there was a good understanding of the loading conditions that could apply. Sometimes there is limited knowledge of the actual details of construction and always there is a desire to ensure that the community’s resources are properly applied. The difficulty facing those who allocate funds for the benefit of the community measure the cost against the benefit achieved and to compare that with opportunities available.
Risk Assessment gives us the tools to estimate the likelihood of a circumstance occurring and of its consequences. It also gives us the tools to estimate what these will be after any improvement. These tools are diverse and can be imprecise. As time goes on our methods will improve but chance and circumstance will always be with us. But, if we use consistent methods, we will generally be able to rank the possible outcomes and compare them, in scale, with others.
ANCOLD is aware of the diversity of dams and the circumstance associated with them and offers this document merely as an indicator of the approach that may be taken. Nevertheless we hope that its adoption will lead to greater comparability between individual workers.Learn more
Dam safety requires a thorough understanding of the characteristics of the foundation and the materials that will be used, or have been used, for construction of a dam. These guidelines aim to improve practice to benefit dam owners through more effective and targeted investigations required to answer key questions about dams and their foundations.
Guidance is provided to owners, those preparing briefs for site investigations and for consultants carrying out the work. The Guidelines have been prepared to cover all types of water storage and tailings dams, both new and existing.
Common issues and objectives are described along with the steps required to undertake the investigations and appropriate methods.
These Guidelines are the culmination of extensive voluntary work by the Chairman, Emeritus Professor Robin Fell, and his Working Group. It is a significant development for dam engineering in Australia and will be a valuable resource.Learn more
ANCOLD published its first Guidelines for Design of Dams for Earthquake in 1998. The Guidelines were prepared to bring together knowledge about earthquakes in Australia following the devastating
Newcastle (1989 magnitude Mw 5.4) and the Tennant Creek (1988 magnitude Mw 6.6) earthquakes, and improved analytical methods to predict the behaviour of dams subject to earthquake.
When the 1998 Guidelines were issued, it was recognised that over time there would be improved data and tools to help the designer. This has indeed been the case and ANCOLD decided that it would be timely to update its Guidelines to incorporate the significant advances made in the understanding of earthquakes, seismic hazard assessments, analysis and design.
The Working Group convened to produce these updated Guidelines, replacing the 1998 Guidelines, was composed of representatives from dam owners, State dam safety regulatory agencies and private consulting practices. The draft Guidelines were made available for comment by ANCOLD members and international review of the Guidelines was undertaken by eminent practitioners in the subject matter from the United States, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Because of the seismic hazard uncertainty and the associated structural response, these Guidelines
encourage the use of risk-based methods for assessing existing dams and for the design of new dams. However, the deterministic approach is also covered for those owners who prefer to use it.
This guideline is the culmination of a great deal of voluntary work by convenor, Mr Steve O’Brien and his working group. It is a significant development for dam engineering in Australia and will be a valuable resource.
As with all ANCOLD Guidelines, this guideline is not a design code or standard and has been produced for the guidance of experienced practitioners who are required to apply their own professional skill and judgement in its application. Users must keep abreast of developments in the design of dams and appurtenant structures for earthquake and take those developments into account when using these Guidelines.
The Guidelines will again be reviewed when knowledge and practice have developed to a point when an update is required. Accordingly, ANCOLD welcomes comments from users and other interested parties.
Shane McGrathLearn more
Chairman of ANCOLD Inc.