Dams and Dikes Structural Health Monitoring Systems - Health and Safety

The control of a dam requires a wide range of important information coming from the sensors, which are of vital importance for the life of a dam. Engineers in charge can take specific and sudden decisions for a correct control of a dam`s reservoir, body and foundations. However, monitoring is not only carried out by sensors, but it also involves direct or remote visual inspection as well as topographical measuring.

The main purpose of instrumentation installed within a dam is to study whether or not the dam is behaving according to design predictions, and to verify design assumptions. Monitoring has for objective to ensure both the longevity and safety of the structure. It must enable timely detection of any behaviour that could deteriorate the dam, potentially resulting in its shutdown or failure, in order to implement corrective measures.

Monitoring also plays a fundamental role during construction. It enables the verification of design hypotheses and may affect the construction rate of certain works. Monitoring is particularly crucial during initial filling of the reservoir, which is a critical phase in the life of a dam.

Earthquakes can seriously and permanently damage dams, so dynamic measurements are recommended and complementary to static ones. Instrumentation is used to accurately quantify certain parameters of structural behaviour over time, as well as to monitor their rate of change. Monitoring parameters such as leakage, pore water pressure and deformation can provide an indication of the structure's performance.

The scope of the monitoring methods used depends on the potential risk associated with dam and site characteristics. Such characteristics include:

  • Dam height and type
  • Extent of potential damages to people and structures located in the flood zone
  • Reservoir and spillway capacity
  • Site seismicity
  • Foundation's weakness zones

Dam monitoring is subject to numerous regulations, and in many countries, it is regulated by strict administrative standards.In the case of Dikes, a structural health monitoring system can provide early warning of degradation in order to allow preventive action to be taken before a seepage or a failure occurs.

1 - Integrated solutions The Roctest Group provides Integrated Structural Health Monitoring Solutions for dams and dikes, based on advanced fiber optic technologies and conventional sensors. The Roctest Group also integrates local corrosion sensors and other third party transducers for additional information. All sensing technologies are seamlessly integrated into a single database and user interface.

2 - SHMLive Through the SHMLive service, the Roctest Group offers a comprehensive solution for dams and dikes monitoring. This includes the design of the system, its delivery and installation, maintenance and operation, web access to the data and data analysis by experienced engineering partners, all for a fixed monthly fee.

3 - Provide important data on the behavior of a reservoir, a dam's body and foundation One of the most important aims of a monitoring system is to compare data acquired from instrumentation with expected design values obtained from numerical analysis: structural, hydraulic and geotechnical analysis. Therefore, records obtained from dam instrumentation are crucial for interpretation of structural behavior and to know the reservoir level and foundation stability.

4 - Ensure preservation of water, safety of people and nature with a real-time and continuous monitoring, 24/7 All acquired data will be conveniently used to save, as far as possible, the available water wealth, by keeping under constant control the reservoir level, opening of gates, overflowing, etc. By quick data processing, engineers will be aware of the water balance between inflows and outflows so they may take the most appropriate decisions on flood control. Overflowing or huge seepages may have disastrous impacts, putting human beings and animals in danger. A real-time and continuous monitoring system can avoid these calamity and terrible disasters.

5 - Keep environmental events, such as earthquakes and rainfalls, under control Seismic events can occur, so strong motion monitoring is used to measure the response of the dam and compare data with seismic design assumptions. Important rainfalls could provide huge amount of water, and flow wave could approach the dam. Weather station dislocated around the reservoir may help the engineer study the phenomena and prevent structural damages and/or water waste.

6 - Reduction of maintenance costs Implementing a Roctest Group monitoring system with high grade of accuracy, reliability and robustness can decrease the insurance premiums and maintenance costs allocated for refunding possible liabilities and damages to people and properties caused by unexpected structural failures.

7 - The Roctest Group: a dependable partner for instrumentation project management The Roctest Group will support the owners in all phases of a project, from system design to installation, commissioning and training. Through the experience and commitment of the Roctest Group, any monitoring needs will be met. The Roctest Group has been instrumenting critical structures, including dams and nuclear power plants, for more than 60 years. Its worldwide network of system integrators provides a competent local support for any project. All the systems come with a 10 year warranty on the availability of spare parts.

The following packages are the most widely used for dams and dikes monitoring. However, each project has specific requirements and needs that can be addressed by a tailored system. The Roctest Group has developed a 7-step methodology to design and implement an optimal SHM system for your dam or dike.