Dam Safety Work in the Hydraulic Investigations and Laboratory Services Group
The Hydraulic Investigations and Laboratory Services Group performs site-specific studies and carries out applied research funded by the Dam Safety program and external partners including EPRI and PG&E. The safety improvements and cost savings realized from this research have been significant. Specific dam safety related work includes:
- Labyrinth spillways - Hydraulic model investigations have produced generalized criteria for the design of labyrinth spillways to increase reservoir storage and spillway discharge capacity.
- Fuse plug spillways - Fuse plug spillways are a cost effective alternative for passing discharges in excess of the normal service spillway and outlet works flows. A laboratory research program developed designs for fuse plug embankments that breach and erode in a predictable and reliable manner.
- Dam overtopping protection alternatives - Laboratory and near-prototype facilities have been used to evaluate many embankment dam and concrete dam overtopping protection methods. These methods allow the safe overtopping of dams during flood events. Hydraulic testing is ongoing for roller-compacted concrete, individual block systems, continuously reinforced concrete facings, riprap, and other types of protective schemes. Design guidance has been developed for stepped spillways on 2:1 slopes.
- Rubber dams - The hydraulic characteristics of inflatable rubber bladders, with or without a steel flap gate, are being investigated in project-specific model tests. This new technology may provide reliable alternatives to traditional gate structures.
- Dam and spillway foundation erosion - Laboratory and near-prototype investigations are ongoing to better define the erosion processes of hydraulic jacking, dislodging, and transportation of rock foundation materials downstream of dams during extreme flows. These physical tests will be used to verify a predictive numerical code currently under development.
- Emergency gate closures - Laboratory and field testing have determined a test procedure used to verify that emergency gates at Reclamation facilities can safely operate when needed. The procedure includes a structural review, inspection, test, and subsequent reporting to satisfy national dam safety requirements.
- Embankment dam breach modeling - The Hydraulic Investigations and Laboratory Services Group and Reclamation's Dam Safety Office are involved in a collaborative research effort with CEA Technologies, Inc. and member agencies of its Dam Safety Interest Group to develop improved simulation models for embankment dam breaching.
Last reviewed: 03/21/11