Bureau of Reclamation Experience with Innovative Solutions to Increased Design Floods

by Perry J. Hensley, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Geotechnical Practice in Dam Rehabilitation


Over the last several decades advances in the hydrologist's ability to estimate floods have resulted in increases to the design floods for many existing drainages. As with other dams throughout the world, numerous Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) dams were subject to updated design floods that could not be safely passed by the existing spillway structures. Conventional practice has been to enlarge the concrete spillway structure, raise the dam, or provide a combination thereof to accommodate the large flood flows. Although effective, this practice has required large almost prohibitive expenditures, significantly reducing the overall economic benefits derived from these water projects. Recent practice has been to develop more cost effective solutions to these conventional solutions. Principal among the innovative solutions are providing overtopping protection for embankment dams and the use of unlined fuse plug controlled spillways. Integral with the utilization of these concepts on Reclamation projects has been the direct performance or sponsorship of extensive laboratory model and prototype studies. Another essential aspect has been the use of multi-disciplined design teams to ensure the geotechnical, structural, and hydraulic aspects have been considered and fully integrated into the overall design. Several of these concepts have been implemented and are providing cost effective service on Reclamation projects. A discussion of the conceptual development, economic benefits, design, construction, and performance to date for each case history will be presented.

Subject Headings: Hydraulic design | Floods | Spillways | Embankment dams | Wave overtopping | Drop structures | Bureau of Reclamation

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