2019 – Design of Rockfill Embankments for Overtopping During Construction

Meysam Safavian, Bob Wark, Damian Nott

The paper evaluates the stability of the reinforced rockfill at the downstream side of Waimea Dam, a new CFRD dam that is currently under construction in New Zealand. The reinforced rockfill is part of the overall diversion strategy for the dam during construction and has been designed to allow for safe overtopping to a depth of 2.9m, which corresponds to the 1 in 1,000 AEP flood.
Design of reinforced rockfill for overtopping allows for the safe passage of floods that exceed the capacity of the primary diversion works. This may be required for dam safety during construction, as is the requirement for Waimea Dam. It also serves to protect the works whist the dam is being built.

The focus of the paper is the stability assessment of the reinforced rockfill to prevent seepage induced instability during overtopping. As seepage forces have a considerable effect on the stability of the dam, a finite element seepage analysis was undertaken to estimate the seepage forces throughout the embankment, which was used in the design of the reinforcement system.

Details of the design process, including the seepage and stability analysis for a range of configurations are outlined, and recommendations for the design of similar future projects are provided.

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