Earth Dam Seepage Control, SCS Experience

by James R. Talbot, USDA, Soil Conservation Service, Washington, DC, USA,
David C. Ralston, USDA, Soil Conservation Service, Washington, DC, USA,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Seepage and Leakage from Dams and Impoundments

Abstract: The U. S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service (SCS) designs and administers construction of a large number of small- or medium-sized dams. SCS experience has shown that nearly all dams crack to some degree, regardless of size. Cracking can lead to concentrated seepage, erosion, and eventual failure, particularly in dams constructed of dispersive clays, certain broadly graded soils, and other erodible soils. Through laboratory tests and full-scale field tests, SCS has studied the use of sand and gravel filters to seal cracks or other concentrated leaks in dams. Cracked homogeneous dams having no filter zones have been repaired by trenching into the dams to facilitate filter installation. The trend in SCS is toward the use of filters instead of structural walls (anti-seep collars) or other measures to intercept seepage and prevent erosion.

Subject Headings: Seepage | Embankment dams | Earthfill dams | Cracking | Soil water | Sand filters | Piping erosion | Field tests | South Carolina | North America | United States

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