Dr. Violeta Martin and Daniel Adria Discuss Dam Breach Analysis at the 2023 Canadian Dam Association Conference
Dr. Violeta Martin and Daniel Adria Discuss Dam Breach Analysis at the 2023 Canadian Dam Association Conference

Dr. Violeta Martin and Daniel Adria Discuss Dam Breach Analysis at the 2023 Canadian Dam Association Conference

November 6, 2023, Vancouver, BC, Canada Knight Piésold Canada’s hydrotechnical specialists recently shared their insights on dam breach analysis at this year’s Canadian Dam Association (CDA) Annual Conference and Trade Show. Taking place in Winnipeg, Manitoba from October 21 to 25, the conference and workshops offered an ideal opportunity for dam engineering professionals to share their knowledge and discuss the latest advancements in dam safety and water and waste management.  

Dr. Violeta Martin, Specialist Hydrotechnical Engineer, and Daniel Adria, Project Engineer, were among the technical specialists participating in the annual conference, themed “Every dam has a story – what can we learn?” Dr. Martin and Mohammad Al-Mamun of Tetra Tech were the technical leads joined by four other leading professionals in the Tailings Dam Beach Analyses workshop, sharing their technical expertise on the subject. The workshop included a comprehensive review and guidance on the application of the CDA technical bulletin Tailings Dam Breach Analysis with a focus on various key considerations, practical examples, and group exercises.

Meanwhile, Adria leveraged his industry experience in the Dam Breach technical session, presenting a paper titled “The Role of Sensitivity Analysis in Selecting the Dam Breach Parameters in the Dam Breach Analysis,” which was written in collaboration with Dr. Violeta Martin and Dr. Scott McDougall of the University of British Columbia. The paper highlights how using sensitivity analysis can help guide the selection of breach parameters for both water retaining and tailings dams and introduced two novel empirical equations to support dam breach parameter estimation.

Adria explained, "Breach parameters and peak discharge estimates can be highly uncertain, especially when using empirical equations to develop estimates for any specific dam with conditions not well represented in the past failure databases. For example, most equations were formulated around erosional failures of water retaining dams, posing significant uncertainty when applied to tailings dams. That is why sensitivity analysis is one of the key elements of dam breach analyses as it assists in guiding the selection of breach parameters and the development of outflow hydrographs, as recommended in various CDA guidelines and other international documents. Our novel equations can also support these forms of analyses."

"The workshop and conference provided invaluable opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions on dam safety and water and waste management with the dam engineering community,” said Dr. Martin. “Dam breach analysis is an integral part of dam safety and emergency planning, and by continuing to stay at the forefront of best practices, we continue to support our clients and the dam engineering community in achieving safe and effective waste and water management.”

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