2008 – Construction of a full height filter buttress against a full reservoir at Dee Dam

Chris Topham, Paul Southcott, Tim Cubit

Abstract: Dee Dam is a 15 m high and 270 m long central core earth and rockfill dam on the upper reaches of Hydro Tasmania’s Tungatinah Power Scheme. The dam is assessed to have a High A hazard category. Hydro Tasmania’s portfolio risk assessment found that a risk based upgrade was warranted to protect against both piping and flood overtopping failure modes.

A $4.2M modernisation project was implemented in 2008 comprising the installation of a full height downstream filter with rockfill buttress, repairs to cracking in the diversion conduit and raising of the core for improved flood capacity. Lowering of the Dee Lagoon to facilitate full height excavation of the downstream shoulder of the dam was impractical to Hydro Tasmania for production, environment, cost and stakeholder reasons. Hence, careful analysis and risk management was required to ensure the safety of the dam during the construction of the above works against a full storage.

This paper presents the risk objective for the upgrade work, modelling and analysis undertaken to assess dam safety during the works. A wide range of construction risk mitigation measures were employed prior to and during the upgrade works. The response to latent conditions and potential dam safety incidents that occurred during construction are described. The continuous adaptation of the construction methodology to suit site conditions encountered during the project is also presented. The project was successfully completed in June 2008. The approach of detailed investigations and design coupled with a strong risk based approach during the construction proved to be effective in managing the dam safety risks of construction work with a full reservoir.

Keywords: earth and rockfill dam, filters, construction risk mitigation, dam safety, dam safety incidents.

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