Embankment Seepage Control Design and Construction

by Edward C. Pritchett, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Geotechnical & Civil Branch, Washington, DC, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Seepage and Leakage from Dams and Impoundments


For seepage control features of embankment dams, design criteria and construction practice is reviewed as it is reflected in the experience of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The generally accepted principles of embankment zoning are presented along with a discussion of some material property uncertainties that have been recognized following the unsatisfactory, in-place behavior of materials traditionally considered as being acceptable. Reliance is on the increase for internal filters, drains, and transition zones to perform a difficult variety of important functions ranging from the normal control of internal seepage, to effective defenses against deformation cracking and hydraulic fracturing. These multiple functions are identified and the need for more definitive specifications and thorough construction inspection is emphasized to assure effective translation of design intent to a satisfactory as-built condition. Recommendations are also offered for the enhancement of contract specifications.

Subject Headings: Seepage | Hydraulic design | Construction management | Material properties | Embankment dams | Construction materials | Filters | Porous media flow

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