Using Innovative Technologies and Geosynthetics in Embankment Dam Rehabilitations

by William O. Engemoen, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Geotechnical Practice in Dam Rehabilitation


The ever increasing development and confidence in new and innovative technologies such as geosynthetics, in conjunction with often significant economic advantages, have led designers to utilize the newer technologies on a variety of embankment dam rehabilitation projects. The United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) typically considers the use of new technologies as potential means of helping mitigate dam safety deficiencies in embankment dams. Reclamation has had a number of applications where these new technologies were successfully, and economically, used. Included as examples are Lake Sherburne Dam, which was raised through the use of Reinforced Earth in order to accommodate a revised larger probable maximum flood (PMF), as well as the Pactola Dam raise which incorporated a geomembrane as the impervious barrier. Davis Creek Dam is an illustration of the use of geogrids to steepen embankment slopes (and therefore minimize the cost of crest raises). Mt. Elbert Forebay and San Justo Reservoir are examples of how geomembranes can be used to minimize or prevent reservoir seepage and greatly reduce the threat of dam safety problems such as excessive seepage and foundation piping. This paper discusses the design concepts and details, as well as the construction aspects, of these various applications.

Subject Headings: Embankment dams | Geosynthetics | Rehabilitation | Innovation | Dam foundations | Earthfill dams | Soil stabilization | Foundation design | United States

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