2003 – Investigation of a Deteriorating Seepage Condition in Arapuni Dam Foundation New Zealand

Peter D Amos, Thomas G Newson, Murray D Gillon

In September 2000, pressures being monitored in a geological fracture beneath Arapuni Dam were found to be rising significantly, indicating that a deteriorating condition was developing in the foundation. Two boreholes drilled in 1995 had intersected high water pressures within the fracture in an area close to the downstream face of the dam, posing a risk of major leakage developing from where the fracture day-lighted downstream of the dam. Lumps of clay, bitumen and lake biota, including snails and small fish, were identified discharging from the boreholes, indicating that a significant leakage path had developed. Detailed investigations, the subject of this paper, were carried out from September 2000 to confirm the extent and nature of the deterioration. A range of groundwater investigation techniques and tools were used, while the reservoir remained full, to identify the source of the leak and confirm the path it took. The investigations culminated in development of a groundwater model that described the seepage behaviour in the dam foundation. Based on the investigation information gathered, the foundation fracture bearing the high water pressure was successfully grouted in December 2001 without lowering the reservoir.

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