Seepage Monitoring and Analysis of Embankment Dams

Some amount of seepage passes through and under all embankment dams. The collection, monitoring, and analysis of seepage is crucial in the successful execution of any dam safety program and is helpful in deciding if it is expected ambient seepage or indicative of a more serious condition. Seepage collection methods typically include toe drains, blanket drains, and relief wells. Monitoring schemes can be grouped into several categories including; pressure, flow, temperature, and chemistry. Commonly used methods to collect data for each of these categories are; piezometers, transducers (pressure); weirs, flumes (flow); thermocouples (temperature); and stiff diagrams (chemistry). Upon collecting data from these methods one then conducts an analysis to determine if the performance meets ‘design intent’ or if it indicates the dam is in distress and repair is required. Since all dams and their foundations are different, there is no standard methodology for analysis and these studies tend to be ‘investigative’ in nature. This course will provide a background on collection methods including layout, access, and sediment collection techniques for toe drains and maintenance concerns associated with relief wells. Additionally an overview of monitoring methods and instruments will be made, including typical presentation methods. Finally, an overview of analysis methodologies will be presented, as well as for two case histories.

Presented by Mark W. Pabst, P.E.