2018 – The Development and Application of the Guide to Drawdown Capacity for Reservoir Safety and Emergency Planning in the UK

A.P. Courtnadge & J.D. Gosden

The paper describes the development of UK guidance on reservoir drawdown capacity. The guidance provides for a consistent thought process to be used in determining the recommended capacity. A basic recommended standard is proposed for embankment dams which varies with the consequences of failure of a dam. The drawdown rate for the highest consequence dams is 5% dam height/day with an upper limit of 1m/day. Engineering judgement is used to vary this standard allowing for ‘other considerations’ including the vulnerability to rapid dam failure, surveillance and precedent practice. A different approach is proposed for concrete/masonry dam, which considers the prime purpose of drawdown being to lower the reservoir in a reasonable timeframe to permit repairs rather than rapid lowering to avert failure. The UK approach is compared with that used in Australia and suggestions made for where its use may be appropriate.

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