2022 – Saving Time and Better Managing Embankment Dam Safety Risks with Automated Monitoring

Matt Daley, GHD Pty Ltd, Hugh Tassell, GHD Pty Ltd, Brian McCarthy, GHD Pty Ltd, Craig O’Neill, GHD Pty Ltd

Recurrent routine monitoring is a key requirement of ANCOLD dam safety guidelines, and the frequency of monitoring is generally related to hazard category of the dam. Telemetered data can provide constant monitoring of dams systems, and is often implemented for observations of rainfall, storage level, seepage and seismic activity, significantly reducing the costs and human resources required in high-frequency monitoring of this data.

Working with ANCOLD Guidelines, the implementation of a well-considered automated Dams Monitoring System (DMS) can enable reduced frequency of routine dam inspections, better monitoring data and more timely insights, leading to reduced dam safety risks. This paper provides a suggested methodology for undertaking an Optimisation Study to achieve a targeted, site-specific automated DMS.

Embankment dam deformation is an area where there has historically been limited options to achieving high-frequency, automated monitoring of sufficient accuracy to create fast, pre-emptive warning of significant dam movements. Traditionally deformation monitoring of dams has been limited to observing long-term trends via labour intensive, periodic survey of set points (e.g. quarterly to annually).

Increasingly, however, there is a range of established and emerging technologies that aim to address the issue by providing higher-frequency, automated monitoring of embankment dam deformation. This paper summarises relative pros and cons of a selection of these technologies and reflects on the authors’ experiences to date with these technologies.

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