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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.Learn more
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.
Gavan Hunter, David Jeffery and Stephen Chia
The Main Embankment at Tullaroop Dam in central Victoria is a 43 m high earthfill embankment with a very broad earthfill zone and rockfill zones at the outer toe regions. There has been an extensive history of cracking within the Main Embankment since formalisation of visual inspections in 1987.Widespread cracking has been observed on the crest and downstream shoulder. Cracking on the crest has mainly been longitudinal, but transverse cracks have also been observed. Cracking on the downstream shoulder has comprised longitudinal, diagonal and transverse cracking. In April 2004, a 60 mm wide diagonal crack opened on the downstream shoulder of the left abutment (from crest to toe) and Goulburn-Murray Water constructed a local filter buttress in 2005/06 on the left abutment. In 2011/12 a longitudinal crack opened up on the upper downstream berm toward the right abutment. The crack was initially 15m long and 10 to 215 mm wide, then propagated several months later to 70 m in length, 40 to 50 mm width and greater than 3 m in depth.In May 2011 three piezometers within the earth fill core recorded a very rapid rise in pore water pressure equivalent to 12 to 13 m pressure head above their previous readings. The piezometers were located on the same alignment (upstream to downstream) and were located below the crest and downstream shoulder, and the rise was to levels close to and above the embankment surface. The piezometers then showed a steady fall with time returning to the pre rise levels after 4 to 6 weeks.In 2015/16 Goulburn-Murray Water undertook dam safety upgrade works to reduce the risk of piping through the Main Embankment by extension of the filter buttress across the full width of the embankment. During these upgrade works, very deep (greater than 5 m) and extensive transverse cracks were observed in the embankment over relatively subtle slope changes on the right abutment.Thecracking and pore water pressure behaviour in the Main Embankment at Tullaroop Reservoir present an important case study. The paper provides details on the cracking and postulated crack mechanisms, and the rapid pore water pressure rise and postulated mechanisms. A summary of the upgrade works is also provided.Learn more
Gavan Hunter, David Jeffery and Chris Kelly
Laanecoorie Reservoir, located in central Victoria, passed 3 significant floods in late 2010 to early 2011; the last flood being the highest on record since 1909. Significant cracking and deformation of this 100 year old puddle core earthfill embankment occurred. A series of longitudinal cracks up to 25 mm in width opened up in the crest over a length of 70 m and crest settlements were up to 70 mm; very large for a dam of this age. A significant difference at Laanecoorie compared to other similar dams is that it experiences high tail water levels during major flooding.Learn more
Investigations into the embankment following the January 2011 flood encountered several defects
including a decomposed tree root hole (large void up to 90 mm) that almost fully penetrated the raised section of puddle core, permeable gravel layers within the puddle core and transverse cracks up to 2 mm wide. The encountered defects and performance of the embankment many years after construction highlighted the deterioration that can occur with aging of these older embankments and the issues associated with poor past practices in tree management adjacent to dam embankments.
Dam safety upgrade works were undertaken in 2013 to address the identified piping and stability risks.
The works included construction of a filter buttress, replacement of a length of the raised puddle core and construction of a buried gabion wall on the left abutment to provide protection against scour should the secondary spillway fail or overtop.
GMW implemented a series of actions during the flood events in accordance with the Dam Safety
Emergency Plan (DSEP) to address cracking and deformation. Once aware of the dam safety risks, interim actions were implemented including increased frequency of monitoring, together with set up and measurement of crack pins, and temporary survey markers on the embankment.