1998 – Improved Estimates of Hydrologic Risks for Dam – Impacts of the New Flood Guidelines


The assessment of flood risk is important to the safe design, maintenance and operation of dams. Traditionally, a standards-based approach has been adopted, in which the adequacy of a spillway was assessed by its ability to pass the whole, or a specified fraction, of the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF). More recently, however, the ANCOLD Position Paper on Guidelines for Selection of Acceptable Flood Capacity for Dams has moved towards a risk-based approach, in which attention is focused on establishing the exceedance probability of the maximum flood that can be safely passed by the spillway.

The move to a risk-based approach has led to an increasing focus on the derivation of floods with very low probabilities of exceedance. The chapter in Australian Rainfall and Runoff that gives guidance on the estimation of extreme floods has recently been revised and issued as Book VI. The new guidelines reflect the move from a standards, to a risk based approach and also include recent developments in extreme flood estimation. These recent developments result in an improved estimate of floods in the large to extreme range and hence a more reliable estimate of hydrologic risk.

This paper illustrates the impacts of the new flood guidelines by summarising the results for 7 dams in Southeastern Australia. For the examples presented in this paper the impact of the new guidelines is to reduce the estimated hydrologic risk. The new guidelines have an important effect on the estimation of hydrologic risk and therefore the assessment and management of dams in Australia.

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