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Long-term Performance of Cut-off Walls to Prevent Seepage in Dams

Project ID: 1966
Principal Investigator: Kurt Von Fay
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2011
Keywords: None

Research Question

What are the long-term performance characteristics of cutoff walls used to prevent seepage in dams?

Need and Benefit

Cutoff walls are frequently used to slow down or prevent seepage of water through and/or around dams. There are a number of techniques for the construction of cutoff walls including concrete, cement-bentonite slurries, and cement grouting. They are thought to be a long-term solution to blocking seepage, but new information may suggest they are not as effective as once thought. Because Reclamation has such a large inventory of dams, the results of this study could have tremendous impacts on Reclamation and its structures. Identifying those techniques which are most effective for seepage prevention will help Reclamation improve the performance of its structures.

Contributing Partners

None

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Reclamation’s Seepage Barrier Experience - A Cursory Scoping Study (final, PDF, 170KB)
By Doug Hurcomb
Report completed on October 24, 2011

The purpose of this report on seepage barriers is to develop a cursory scoping study evaluation for the long term performance characteristics of cutoff walls used in dams. Cutoff walls are a type of seepage barrier structure designed to reduce the flow of water through or around a dam.

A reading of "Findings of Case Histories on the Long-Term Performance of Seepage Barriers in Dams" by John Rice and J. Michael Duncan, 2010, and input from TSC designers raised our curiosity about Reclamation'
Keywords: seepage barriers, cutoff walls, cut off wall perfromance

This information was last updated on September 2, 2014
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