Filters and Leakage Control in Embankment Dams

by James L. Sherard,
Lorn P. Dunnigan,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Seepage and Leakage from Dams and Impoundments


In the practice of earth dam engineering there has been some doubt that downstream filters could be relied upon completely to control and seal concentrated leaks through impervious dam sections (cores). This doubt led to the 'multiple lines of defense' concept, particularly for high, central core dams, in which several independent lines of defense are provided to prevent concentrated leaks through differential settlement cracks and to control the leaks, if they should develop in spite of efforts to prevent them. This situation is currently changing. Recent laboratory research shows conclusively that filters with properties similar to those used in current common practice will reliably control and seal concentrated leaks. Recommended design criteria are given for filters needed to control concentrated leaks, based on results of a recently completed, 4-year laboratory research program carried out by the Soil Conservation Service.

Subject Headings: Embankment dams | Filters | Leakage | Pipe leakage | Earthfill dams | Differential settlement | Cracking | Gravels

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