Damwatch Engineering Newsletter, August 2017
for the latest Damwatch news.
Welcome to Sally Robinson
We are pleased to welcome Sally Robinson to Damwatch. Sally is our Business Manager and leads our Administration team. Sally is a chartered accountant, and most recently worked at Powershop in the finance team, setting up their financial systems and processes . She has experience working for government and private organisations in New Zealand and the UK.
Sally has already learnt several technical engineering terms and looks forward to learning more about the assets we work on.
Welcome to Matthew Henden
Matthew Henden has recently re-joined Damwatch Engineering from Dam Safety Intelligence. He has a background in dam safety and civil engineering. Matthew has been responsible for the regular monitoring and inspection of many large dams, for both water supply and hydro generation sectors, in New Zealand and overseas.
Matthew is looking forward to further developing his dam engineering skills as a part of Damwatch. He is particularly interested in structural design and hydraulic design modelling.
NBR article on Damwatch’s work in Viet Nam
For an update on the The Vietnam - New Zealand Dam Safety Project, that we are working on in conjunction with GNS Science and the Thuy Loi University in Viet Nam,
Welcome to Bradley Blucher
We are pleased to welcome Bradley Blucher to Damwatch. Bradley joins our Engineering team after nearly 5 years with Cardno where he has worked since he graduated from the University of Auckland.
Bradley has a background in three waters (water supply, stormwater and wastewater) design and earthworks supervision and testing. During his time with Cardno, Bradley was responsible for design and delivery of infrastructure renewals/improvements for local government and for several large land development projects.
Bradley looks forward to continuing to develop his skills as an engineer at Damwatch.
Article featured in Issue 1, 2017, The International Journal on Hydropower and Dams
Damwatch staff Peter Amos and Bill Veale, along with Nguyen Canh Thai of Thuyloi University and Stuart Read of GNS Science, had an article published in Issue 1, 2017, The International Journal on Hydropower and Dams.
Improving dam and downstream community safety in Vietnam,
outlines the Vietnam – New Zealand Dam Safety Project that Damwatch has been involved with in Vietnam since 2012. Damwatch is currently engaged in the second phase of this project which is programmed to run over the next five years.
to read the article.
Vietnam – New Zealand Dam Safety Project
Damwatch team members Peter Amos, Stephen McInerney and Damon Simmons paid another visit to Vietnam in January to meet with officials and undertake the first round of dam inspections under Phase 2 of the Vietnam – New Zealand Dam Safety Project. We were accompanied by our joint venture partners from GNS (Kelvin Berryman, Stuart Read and Pilar Villamor) who undertook landslide and seismic hazard inspections.
The field inspections will be used to prioritise the dams for remediation, and another round of field inspections is planned for March 2017. This phase of the project is programmed to run over the next five years and aims to improve dam management and safety and mitigate risks associated with extreme dam discharges.
Pictured: Stephen McInerney and Damon Simmons with the lecturers from Thủy Iợi University of Hanoi, who accompanied us on the dam inspections.
Damwatch Management Leading New Ownership Structure
Meridian Energy is selling Damwatch's engineering consultancy to current management and the Rooney Group.
Meridian will keep the firm's asset safety analytics capability, creating a new subsidiary Dam Safety Intelligence Limited.
to read an article published in Energy News.
to read an article published by Voice of Renewables.
Fuluasou Dam Inspection - Samoa
Damwatch staff Tony Harker and Viculp Lal recently visited Samoa, for a site reconnaissance and appraisal of local conditions for rehabilitation of the Fuluasou dam and small hydro project. The dam and power development were constructed in the 1950s but had to be put out of service due to damage sustained over the years. Electric Power Corporation (EPC), Samoa has recently initiated a rehabilitation of the dam and small hydro project for development of 680kW generation capacity. The rehabilitation contract was recently awarded to Pacific Engineering Projects Limited, who have engaged Damwatch to assess the stability and rehabilitation requirements of the dam and appurtenant works.
ANCOLD, Adelaide 2016
This year’s combined ANCOLD / NZSOLD dams conference was held in Adelaide. Dan Forster, Grant Webby, Mohammad Okhovat, Tim Logan and Tony Harker from Damwatch attended. The conference theme was “Dams - a Lasting Legacy” and had a wide variety of presentations, ranging from Seismic Assessments and Investigations, to Insurance and Dam Risk Management.
In the pre-conference technical workshop, Grant delivered a presentation on “Flood Management and Forecasting for Large Hydropower Systems in New Zealand”. This focussed on two case studies, one on the Waitaki Hydro System in the South Island, and the other on the Waikato Hydro System in the North Island.
Mohammad presented a paper on “Seismic Strengthening Design for Pre-stressed Concrete Penstocks” at the conference. This paper, about the only one of their kind penstocks at Benmore Power Station, was authored by Mohammad, Neil Sutherland from Meridian Energy, and Viculp Lal from Damwatch.
Dan, who is the Chair of the NZSOLD Young Professionals (YP’s), made a joint presentation along with Lyndon Johnson, convenor of the ANCOLD YP’s, to promote activities of these groups in both New Zealand and Australia.
The ANCOLD conference is always a very well run and enjoyable event. There was a good mix of high quality technical material and social events. The team enjoyed meeting a number of people for the first time and catching up with long-time friends of Damwatch.
Damwatch Engineering Newsletter, September 2016
for the latest Damwatch news.
Welcome back to Ian Davison
We’re delighted to welcome Ian back to Damwatch. Ian and his wife Ruth have spent the last 12 months travelling through Northern India, Nepal, Myanmar, UK, Turkey, Sichuan, Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. During this time they managed to carry out some voluntary work including assisting with the construction of a couple of school buildings, in earthquake damaged Nepal, made from earth bags. Whilst in Ladakh in India, Ian also found himself involved with master planning a university and city in this mountain desert area.
Ian also managed to squeeze in some Damwatch work while away, meeting up with Rick Scott from our Dam Safety team in Vietnam to work on the Emergency Preparedness Plans for Trung Son Hydropower Project. To read more on this project
Ian returns as Principal Dam Engineer, team leader of Water Resources within the Engineering Group.
Welcome to Grant Webby
We are pleased to welcome Grant Webby to Damwatch. Grant joins our Engineering team after 35 years with Opus International Consultants and its predecessor organisations (Ministry of Works and Development and Works Consultancy Services).
Grant has a background in physical and computational hydraulic modelling. With Opus, Grant was a Technical Principal in Hydraulic and River Engineering responsible for investigations related to the safety management of dams, canals and reservoir systems, flood hazard investigations in large river systems and investigations related to bridge scour and sediment management.
Grant is well known to many of our New Zealand clients.
Trung Son Dam Emergency Preparedness Plan
In early June Damwatch’s Rick Scott and Ian Davison travelled to Vietnam to assist with the finalisation of the Emergency Preparedness Plan and inundation mapping for the Trung Son Hydropower Project. The RCC dam construction is nearing completion with plans to begin filling later this year. It was a great experience to meet and work with representatives of PECC4 (Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company 4) and other Provincial Government officials. They were very accommodating in showing us their facilities and explaining how the system will work.
Trung Son Dam is a roller compacted concrete dam with a crest length of 513 m and height of 84.5 m constructed on the Ma River and will provide flood control and power generation. The powerplant will have a generating capacity of 260MW.
Damwatch Engineering Newsletter, May 2016
for the latest Damwatch news.
Brooklyn Wind Turbine
Congratulations to Meridian Energy on the successful replacement of the iconic Brooklyn wind turbine on Polhill in Wellington.
Damwatch were involved in providing construction advice and supervision during the construction of the turbine foundation. The existing anchored foundation was replaced with a new 12.5m diameter gravity foundation to support the impressive Enercon turbine which is already filling the void in Wellingtonian’s lives since the previous turbine was removed late last year.
We have team members who were involved in the construction of the Te Apiti, West Wind and Mill Creek wind farms and are still involved in the ongoing asset management of these and Meridian’s other wind farm assets.
For more information about wind farm construction or asset management, contact
For more information about what else the Damwatch Engineering Team is capable of, contact
Carew Ponds Annual Inspection
The Carew Storage Ponds designed by Damwatch on the Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme had their first annual inspection this year, and are performing well. The storage provided surety of irrigation supply this first year which was a dry one. There was no restriction on supply to farmers this first season of operation which never happened prior to operation of the Ponds.
The ponds were completed under a design-build contract led by Rooney Earthmoving Ltd, with dam design provided by Damwatch, and NIWA for design and installation of the control system. On the 1st of October 2015, management of the ponds was formally handed over to Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Limited.
For more information on irrigation contact
Documentary - Power from the River
You might find this interesting. Click
to view a 20 minute documentary from 1947 on the development of the Waikato Hydro Scheme in New Zealand. The video contains operational footage of Arapuni Dam and construction footage of Karapiro and Maraetai Dams.
Clyde Dam CSR
Damwatch staff Peter Amos and Jonathan Harris recently completed the Clyde Dam 5-yearly Comprehensive Safety Review (CSR) for Contact Energy. The dam is on the Clutha River, near the town of Clyde, in the South Island, New Zealand. The 105m high concrete dam impounds a reservoir (Lake Dunstan) with an area of 26 km
and a volume of 390 million cubic metres. It is New Zealand’s largest concrete dam.
Clyde Dam is a conventional concrete gravity dam, although the dam and reservoir have two very notable features:
The dam has a vertical joint above a fault in its foundation to accommodate movement of the fault. The joint is sealed by a vertical triangular concrete column commonly referred to as the “wedge plug”. The unique vertical joint in the dam is designed to accommodate 2m of fault displacement across the dam footprint.
The reservoir shoreline has a number of very large existing landslide features which are large enough to block the reservoir. These landslides were themselves subject to significant stability improvement measures before lake filling. One of these landslides is located just above the right abutment of the dam.
Several Damwatch staff have a long history with the Clyde Dam, including:
Murray Gillon, who was the project director, design manager and worked on landslide investigation,
Peter Amos who was involved in structural design and landslide remediation, and
John Black who was involved with the design of the spillway, dewatering sluice, and wedge plug.
Damwatch staff members have a combined experience of over 60 dam safety reviews in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Philippines, Indonesia and Canada. This experience covers most types of dams and a wide variety of geological conditions. For more information on Comprehensive Dam Safety Reviews contact
Brian Benson presents paper at USSD conference in Denver, USA
Brian prepared a technical paper and made a presentation at the 2016 U.S. Society of Dams (USSD) Conference in Denver, USA during April. The title of the paper is “Don’t Judge a Rockfill Dam by its Name Alone.” Faced, compacted rockfill dams have for many years been expected to be robust and durable. However this paper presents evidence that not all examples of this dam type can be expected to behave with the robustness generally attributed them.
The USSD conference gathers leading dam engineers from the USA and internationally to share knowledge and new developments in dam engineering. Damwatch has participated in this event in previous years and we find it an excellent technical forum attended by some of the world’s best engineers. Brian was the only dam engineer from New Zealand to attend this year’s conference and was warmly welcomed by the American contingent.
The topic of the paper and presentation was the changed characterisation of an embankment dam after Damwatch performed a dam safety review and geotechnical investigation. The paper explains how expected performance of the re-characterised dam has changed dramatically. Before the dam safety review the dam was believed to be resilient to earthquake cracking and leakage. Following the dam safety review the dam is assessed to be prone to potential instability from earthquake cracking and leakage.
Brian is leading Damwatch’s remedial design efforts of this dam. If you need dam safety or engineering advice about an embankment dam, or want a copy of the paper, contact him at
or +64 4 381 1300.
World Bank approved the Vietnam Dam Rehabilitation and Safety Improvement Project
On the 15th of December the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved the Vietnam Dam Rehabilitation and Safety Improvement Project, which is expected to benefit up to 6.8 million people in Vietnam. The Vietnam Dam Safety Project managed by Damwatch and funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme is partnering with the World Bank initiative. Damwatch will be involved in developing dam safety management improvements and designing a prioritisation tool to assist the World Bank in assessing remediation priorities.
For more information read the
press release here.
Damwatch Engineering Newsletter, December 2015
for the latest Damwatch news.
Five year Dam Safety Pilot Expansion Project in Viet Nam
During his recent visit to Viet Nam, Prime Minister John Key announced that NZAid would fund the five year Dam Safety Pilot Expansion project. Damwatch Engineering worked on the pilot project over three years with GNS Science and the Water Resources University in Ha Noi.
To read more about the announcement and other development initiatives discussed, click
Mekong River Commission Dam Safety presentation, 12th & 13th November
Rebecca Knott from Damwatch and Kelvin Berryman from GNS Science, travelled to Laos recently to present at the Sustainable Hydropower Planning Forum of the Mekong River Commission in Vientiane. Their presentation covered Dam Safety, and the whole of river basin approach developed in Viet Nam. The two day meeting was attended by officials from Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, and Cambodia, with observers from China and Myanmar, as well as International Consultants. Other presentation topics included baseline information on economic, social and environmental aspects, hydropower planning around ecologically sensitive areas, and MRC’s Preliminary Design Guidance and Mitigation Guidelines for Sustainable Hydropower Practice.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is an inter-governmental agency that works with governments from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam on joint management of shared water resources and sustainable development of the Mekong River. Established in 1995, the MRC aims to ensure that the Mekong water is developed in the most efficient manner that mutually benefits all Member Countries and minimises harmful effects on people and the environment in the Lower Mekong Basin. Damwatch started working with the MRC in 2014, and looks forward to developing our working relationship.
If you have any Dam Safety or Surveillance queries, contact
on +64 4 381 1300.
Technical Paper Presentation by Jonathan Harris at the 6th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering – Christchurch, 1-4 November 2015
Jonathan Harris presented a paper based his experience in seismic dam design and construction. This paper was co-authored with Dick Davison of AECOM, Denver, USA.
Seismic loadings have increased significantly over the past several decades. As a result, many structures now have a seismic vulnerability under these increased loadings. A particular concern is the vulnerability of existing dam foundations and embankment fills that may be susceptible to liquefaction or strain softening. For aging structures that were never designed for high seismic loading, determining a cost-effective design solution can be a complex and daunting challenge.
Dam owners are under increased pressure to maintain reservoir operations at current levels to minimise economic impacts. Dam safety risks are increased during seismic rehabilitation if the reservoir is not lowered, especially if the dam toe is being excavated. Designers have found in situ treatment methods difficult to confirm adequate densification and structural integrity, leaving uncertainty following construction. An owner can invest significantly in remediation yet may be unsure if the problem is fixed.
This paper includes two case histories to illustrate how the cellular structural wall construction technique was used to reduce stability risks during construction as well as reducing long-term seismic dam safety risks. These cases provide two different examples of using cellular structural systems in place of open excavation and in situ treatment methods.
If you would like more information regarding seismic risk reduction methods for dams or a copy of the full paper contact
on +64 4 381 1300.
Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) Workshop and Conference 4-6 November 2015, Brisbane, Australia
Damwatch Engineering’s Peter Amos, Steve McInerney, Brian Benson, Bill Veale, Dan Forster and Erin Poirot recently attended the annual ANCOLD conference in Brisbane. The pre-conference workshop was focussed on updates to the Risk Assessment and Flood Capacity guidelines and the two day conference was themed “Contemporary Challenges for Dams”. The conference was of high quality with a number of thought-provoking presentations and papers.
Damwatch ran a tradestand that invited attendees to stop by and battle it out over games of Dam Jenga tower building. The competition winner was Peter Walton from SRG Limited who achieved 30 levels and walked away with a bottle of NZ wine. The team enjoyed meeting a number of people for the first time and catching up with long-time friends of Damwatch.
Photo: Dan Forster and Peter Walton (SRG Limited) battling it out in Dam Jenga tower building challenge.
Damwatch Dam Safety Course – October 2015
On the 14th & 15th of October Damwatch ran its biennial Dam Safety Course in Wellington. The course hosted attendees from numerous organisations including assets owners, city councils, electricity generators, water suppliers and consultants. We were pleased to host an attendee from Australia.
The 16 presenters covered a wide range of topics over the two days, including legislative requirements, the new NZ Dam Safety Guidelines, developing and implementing Dam Safety Management Systems, and managing dam safety issues and risks. For more information see the
We run public courses every two years in Wellington, or can run courses on your site that are tailored to your organisation and assets. If you are interested in holding a course at your workplace, contact Rebecca on +64 4 381 1265 or
Carew Storage Ponds Completion of Commissioning and Handover to Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd
On 1 October 2015 the management of Carew Storage Ponds was formally handed over to Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd.
The ponds were completed under a design-build contract led by Rooney Earthmoving Ltd, with dam design provided by Damwatch, and NIWA for design and installation of the control system. Following construction completion on 23 December 2014, first filling of the ponds started on 20 March 2015. Commissioning of the Carew Storage Ponds was completed without incident on 20 September 2015.
The fully operational ponds provide 6.1 million m3 of storage which will significantly enhance the reliability of irrigation of supply in the Mayfield Hinds area. The Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme irrigates 32,000 ha between the Rangitata and Hinds River in Canterbury.
The ponds extend over an area of 174ha and have a maximum water depth of 8m. The pond embankments are constructed from sandy gravel won from the footprint of the ponds. They are fully lined with a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) liner to control leakage.
The control system operates automated gates and manages inter-pond flow and flow into the ponds in times of excess supply and out of the ponds in times when supply is constrained by flow in the Rangitata River.
Damwatch Engineering Newsletter, September 2015
for the latest Damwatch news.
Hutt River Floodplain Management Plan
Hutt River City Centre Upgrade, River Corridor options
Damwatch had the opportunity to be involved in investigating river improvement and corridor options for the Hutt River, in the Hutt Valley, New Zealand. Damwatch assisted with the development of the river options and their integration with city redevelopment, roading, bridging, transport and the river environment. Following community consultation, the preferred integrated improvement options will be endorsed by the The Hutt Valley Flood Management Subcommittee (HVFMS), Hutt City Council (HCC) and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and approved by Greater Wellington (GW). The recommended options will then be referred to the working group for development as an integrated project.
The aim of the project is to analyse and develop options for flood protection of the City Centre and lower Hutt Valley. Currently, failure during a 1-in-440-year flood could cause up to $1.1b in damages if the bank burst on the city side of the river, with 2111 houses and 462 commercial properties likely to be flooded. Similar damage would occur during a breach on the right bank.
The photo shows the very constrained river corridor through the City Centre.
For more information see the
Greater Wellington website.
Borehole Inspection Camera
Damwatch has recently developed a lightweight and portable down hole camera.
Inspecting damaged inclinometer and conduit casing.
Identifying a concrete/rock interface.
Inspecting screens on dewatering wells.
Surveying drill holes for fault lines or fissures.
Identifying areas of water flow within a borehole.
Identify intersecting drill holes.
Assisting with instrument/tool recovery.
Real time condition assessment of borehole, casings, interface and screens with high fidelity imagery.
Early location of features or instruments / tasks.
Portable solution, COTS, industry standard.
Compact and simple to operate.
12v DC Power Supply.
Video viewing and recording via laptop. Video files can be saved for later viewing.
Ultra bright LED’s.
Side view adaptor.
Current cable length 45m.
Supplied with aluminium carry case.
Adaptor for up hole use
To see a video filmed by the borehole camera
For more information on Instrumentation at Damwatch contact
ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams) Conference, 13 – 20 June. Stavanger, Norway
Damwatch staff members, Rebecca Knott, Deputy Chair NZSOLD, and Peter Amos, immediate past Chair NZSOLD, attended the ICOLD conference in Norway. Of nearly 1,000 attendees from 65 countries, Rebecca and Peter were among the 8 from New Zealand.
Topics covered included Dam Construction in Challenging Conditions, Reservoir Optimisation and Design, Innovative Hydropower and Dam Projects in Emerging Economies, Climate Change Challenges, and Managing Risks in Hydropower. Rebecca presented an update to the General Assembly from the Committee on Multi-Purpose Water Storage. The associated draft bulletin is currently in circulation for comment, with an ambitious target of a draft final bulletin prior to ICOLD 2016 Johannesburg. Thank you to those who have submitted case studies in support. Peter is a part of the ICOLD Environmental committee. The committee is researching and reporting on Environmental Aspects of Hydroelectric Power Production: Run of River, Peaking Production and Pumped Storage.
It is always a pleasure to catch up with colleagues across the profession globally, to collaborate on committees and to share developments and challenges across the dam industry.
For more information see the
ICOLD Conference website.
Dam Safety Regulations Update – New Zealand Legislation
NZSOLD Dam Safety Guidelines (May 2015) continue to set the standard for Dam Safety in New Zealand. On the 25th of June the New Zealand Government announced that the previously anticipated Dam Safety Regulations had been revoked, and officials are considering whether dam safety should instead be included in the Resource Management Act (RMA). Therefore, the dam safety legislative environment remains unchanged.
The NZSOLD Dam Safety Guidelines were completely rewritten in 2015 and embody current best national and international Dam Safety Practice. Several Damwatch staff were involved in writing the updated Guidelines and have an intimate knowledge of their content.
Damwatch is working with several New Zealand dam owners to align their Dam Safety Management Systems (DSMS) and Dam Safety Assurance Programmes (DSAP) with current best practice and the 2015 NZSOLD Dam Safety Guidelines. The benefits to our clients include well organised and documented programmes to manage dam safety risk, and being able to communicate dam safety roles and responsibilities within their organisation.
If you have any queries on dam safety management, Dam Safety Assurance Programmes (DSAP) or the 2015 NZSOLD Dam Safety Guidelines, contact us on 04 381 1300 or
Carew Ponds Official Opening – May 2015
On Friday 1st of May, Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Limited celebrated the official opening of the Carew Storage Ponds, Canterbury, New Zealand. The Ponds were opened by the Rangitata MP, Jo Goodhew. The storage ponds will provide a major reliability improvement to the "run of river" Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme.
Damwatch have been involved in the design and construction of the irrigation ponds since 2010, as the designer for Rooney Earthmoving Limited, carrying out this design build contract. The Carew Storage Ponds comprises 3 irrigation ponds with a capacity of 6.2 million cubic meters and cover an area of 175 hectares. Storage to capacity was reached in March 2015, and commissioning before handover is being completed.
For more information click
Irrigation Projects Progress.
Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme and Waimakiriri Irrigation Scheme are two South Island projects where Damwatch is the Engineering Design consultant. Rangitata is in the process of filling the seven large ponds. Waimakiriri is going through the process of a resource consent.
"The opportunity to work on one of New Zealand’s biggest irrigation schemes is fantastic, let alone on a design build project with the Rooneys Group has been a great experience for our team"
, says Peter Amos, Managing Director, Damwatch Engineering.
"Developing practical solutions for the technical challenges and seeing the project to commissioning has been very satisfying"
Stuff newspaper article
for more information of Irrigation Projects.
The 1285MW Xayaburi Hydro Dam is under construction and is located near Luang Prabang. Following a recent nearby earthquake, the Mekong River Commission appointed Damwatch to complete a seismic hazard design review and assessment of the dam safety management system. Along with colleagues from GNS Science, Damwatch is completing the hazard assessment report.
NZ shares its dam expertise.
The joint Viet Nam and New Zealand dam project, led by Damwatch and GNS working with the Water Resources University, is entering its final phase. The project, improving dam safety with new technologies for warning systems and risk management, was the main topic of the Dam and Downstream Community Safety Initiative (DDCSI) workshop held in Ha Noi.
Vietnam Newspaper article
Dam Safety Maturity Matrices.
We have just completed the developing of the Dam Safety Programme Maturity Matrices for the Centre of Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI). The Maturity Matrices are a self-assessment tool for dam owners to assess their Dam Safety Programme and to identify priorities for system enhancement. CEATI’s membership includes some of the world’s biggest owner/operator of hydro generation facilities, including several New Zealand companies.