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HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS

**Hans-Erwin Minor 1 and Robert M. Boes 2
**

1 Director, Professor Dr.-Ing., 2 Research Engineer, Dr. sc. techn. Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland Tel. +41 1 632 40 90, Fax: +41 1 632 11 92, E-mail: minor@vaw.baug.ethz.ch

Abstract: The hydraulic design of stepped spillways follows the planning sequence of con-ventional chutes: Flood analysis, selection of design flood and safety check flood, selection of weir type and width, design of weir crest, definition of the stage-discharge curve, calculation of reservoir retention. Additionally, for stepped spillways the selection of step height and the analysis of flow regime and air entrainment are necessary. The design of the sidewalls has to take into account the bulging of the air-water mixture, and the energy dissipation profits from higher energy losses along the steps compared to smooth chutes. The latter is however smaller than often assumed. Higher steps have a positive effect on the hydraulic performance of the spillway.

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Schläpfer 2000) and the results of the International Workshop on the Hydraulics of Stepped Spillways carried out at VAW in March 2000 (Minor & Hager 2000). air concentration 1 INTRODUCTION Stepped spillway chutes can be economically integrated into the downstream face of gravity dams. a careful hydraulic and structural design of the complete spillway. as well as practical experience with design and construction of spillways. Based on hydraulic model investigations at the Laboratory of Hydraulics. In both cases. Flood analysis to find the peak flows and volumes for floods of various recurrence intervals and the selection of the design flood and the safety check flood.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS Keywords: Stepped spillway. a design procedure for stepped spillways is presented and guidelines for the hydraulic design are formulated. energy dissipation. are common for all spillway types (Minor 1998). especially if roller compacted concrete (RCC) is used for the con-struction. Switzerland (Boes 2000a.htm (2 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . is necessary to ensure safe operation over the whole lifetime of the dam structure. including the energy dissipator. RCC dam. Another common application is the use of stepped overlays on embankment dams as emergency spillways. The subsequent text follows this sequence. Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) of ETH Zurich. air-water mixture. 3 SELECTION OF WEIR WIDTH The choice of the weir width is made considering the crest length of the dam. the width of file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. 2 PLANNING SEQUENCE The planning sequence of stepped spillways follows in general the one for conventional spillways. as well as the decision whether the weir structure should be gated.

A higher head on the crest on the other hand increases the specific discharge q. But also for smaller step heights and flatter slopes the allowable values are fairly high. These values are on the conservative side for design purposes. and a possible reduction of effective weir width because of piers or effects at the abutments and the entrance at the sidewalls. because the aeration tends to be more pronounced in the prototype than suggested by model results due to a higher de-gree of turbulence (Boes 2000a and b). As stated above. creating an overfall. Mateos Iguácel & Elviro García (2000) propose a transition between the crest and the stepped chute in which the steps grow continuously from a relatively small height to the constant step height in the chute. Since for stepped spillways q is usually limited to 25-30 m3/s⋅m (Minor 2000). The flow is then already aerated there if the air supply at the sides is sufficient and the crest is not too long. this condition leads to fairly wide crests. At fill dams the crest is much wider and therefore on top of this wide crest often an additional wall is installed. For uniform flow the bottom air concentration is high enough to avoid cavitation for specific discharges up to almost qmax = 140 m3/s⋅m for steep chutes and high steps ( Table 1 ). 4 DESIGN OF WEIR CREST Most spillways are designed using the crest shape given in chart 111-1 of the Hydraulic Design Criteria (COE/WES 2000). It can be shown (Boes & Minor 2000) that cavitation risk can be ruled out for much higher specific discharges than the limit given above once the flow is aerated. the specific discharge may be chosen much higher if it is ensured that the flow is aerated already at the top of the spillway. The reason for this limitation is the fear of cavitation damage. A very important value for all spillways is the allowable rise of the water level in the reservoir above normal operation level caused by the considered flood event.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS the riverbed downstream. A larger rise results in a more pronounced dampening of the peak discharge. This can be achieved if a conventional weir shape file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS.htm (3 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] .

is considerably higher for larger slopes.htm (4 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . The resulting specific discharge q has to be compared with the assumption made above. Another possibility is a flap gate on top of the crest. Very often RCC dams are constructed in layers of 30 cm and formwork-heights of 60 cm to 1. The key curve. 7 FLOW REGIME AND AIR ENTRAINMENT Two distinct flow regimes are found on stepped spillways. which governs the safety against cavitation damage. Furthermore. From that standpoint a step height between 30 cm and 1. the uniform bottom air concentration. 5 VERIFICATION OF MAXIMUM OUTFLOW Once the crest design is defined.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS is chosen (smooth concrete surface) and an aerator is introduced near the point of tangency. Boes 2000c). As shown in Fig. the operation rules have to be taken into account. In case of gated structures. Regarding the cavitation risk high steps allow a markedly larger specific discharge than small steps (Table 1 ). the corresponding key curve can be computed. inflow hydrogramme and reservoir volume curve are needed to calculate the outflow hydrogramme giving the maximum discharge. 6 SELECTION OF STEP HEIGHT The height of the steps has to be chosen taking into account the construction procedure. higher steps are also preferable since more energy is dissipated than with smaller steps (Boes & Minor 2000. Results of model tests show (Boes & Minor 2000) that higher steps seem to have an advantage over smaller steps considering hydraulics.20 m. Steps smaller than 60 cm are not recommended. The advantage of such a solution would be that the flow is aerated and the rise of the water level in the reservoir can be limited.20 m would be convenient. Whereas in nappe flow the steps act as a series of overfalls with the water plunging from one step to another. the water flows as a file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. 1 .

The file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. The entrained air. which results in a markedly higher flow depth over some length. This occurs at the inception point. lead to a bulging of the flow. which has to be taken into account in designing the side walls of the chute. Boes (2000a) did not find such a pronounced flow structure in his tests. skimming flow sets in for ratios larger than (1) This is in approximate agreement with results of other authors (Boes 2000c) and is applicable for chute inclination angles of approximately 26° <f < 55°. According to Boes (2000c) the unaerated length Li from the spillway crest to the inception point can be described by Li = 4. the specific discharge dominates this value. Nappe flow is generally well aerated. Generally speaking. Ac-cording to Boes (2000a). The transition from nappe to skimming flow can be expressed by the ratio of critical flow depth hc and step height s. Chamani (2000) reports that at the inception point. together with the energy dissipation on the chute. For small steps or larger discharges such as the design discharge.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS coherent stream over the pseudo-bottom formed by the step corners in skimming flow. whereas in skimming flow the turbulent boundary layer has to reach the free surface before air may be entrained from the atmosphere. the suddenly increased turbulence at the water surface leads to a "rooster tail".93 for 26° < f < 55° (2) Whereas the step height s has limited influence on the length of the unaerated zone. nappe flow is found for low discharges and large steps. The mixture flow depth showed a local maximum only for higher steps.htm (5 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . the water skims over the step corners.

u denotes the uniform mixture flow depth that is function of the roughness Froude number Fr* = q/(g sinf s3)1/2. The mixture depth h95 is about 12% larger than h90. x is the streamwise coordinate with its origin at the (3) spillway crest and h90. The safety factors take into account the increase of the spray height in the prototype due to a higher turbulence degree.5 in case of emergency spillways on embankment dams prone to erosion. as compared to the model results (Boes 2000 a). file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. whereas h99/h90 ≈ 1. d 90 (4) (5) with a safety factor h = 1. The proposed design height hd for sidewalls reads h = h·h . It is recommended to consider the erosion potential in the non-overflow section of a dam when de-signing training walls. (2) . Starting from the inception point of air entrainment. and p = 0.4 (Boes 2000a).59 for f = 50° (Boes 2000c). the mixture flow depth can be expressed by (Hager & Boes 2000) for 26° < f < 55° where Li is calculated from eq.2 for concrete dams with no con-cern of erosion on the downstream face and h = 1.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS characteristic mixture flow depth h90 with a surface air concentration of 90% serves as a guide for the design in the aerated or white water region. The uniform mixture flow depth is found to be for 26° < f < 55° The exponent p = 0. In non-dimensional form. the air-water mixture is de-scribed by a supercritical backwater curve.htm (6 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . The volumetric portion of the water phase is almost negligi-ble above h90. but the developing spray can lead to fog or ice formation in winter.54 for f = 30° and 40°.

but it is important to have a reliable function.u is the Darcy-Weisbach friction factor for uniform equivalent clear water flow and a ≈ 1. Conservative friction factors of fw.21 (Boes & Minor 2000) is the kinetic energy correction coefficient. 2 shows the relative residual energy head as a function of the relative dam height for different spillway slopes. With the knowledge of the residual energy head Hmax at the toe of the dam. This of course has to be done file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS.06 for 40° and 50° are proposed (Boes 2000c).u = 0.htm (7 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . The calculation of backwater curves starting all from a point where the stage-discharge curve can easily be defined may become necessary. These values are smaller than previously suggested by most authors. For the dimensioning of this structure.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS 8 ENERGY DISSIPATION AT THE DAM TOE One of the advantages of stepped spillways put forward by many authors is the higher energy dissipation along the chute compared with conventional. the knowledge of the downstream water level is needed. It is very often not easy to find the stage-discharge curve for a natural stream. the energy dissipator may be designed. In most cases this is a conventional stilling basin. so that the energy dissipation of aerated skimming flow on stepped spillways is smaller than given in many publications.u = 0. fw. The energy dissipation is different if the flow is aerated or not. Fig.09 for f = 30° and fw. smooth chutes. If the chute length is superior to the length Lu measured from the crest to the location where uniform flow is attained (Boes 2000c) L ≈ (57-13/sinf) h u c for 26° < f < 55° (6) then the rela-tive residual energy head Hres/Hmax at the toe of an ungated stepped spillway can be cal-culated from (Chanson 1994) (7) where Hmax denotes the reservoir head.

too. Experience with existing stepped spillways show that the steps withstand the stresses due to overflow corresponding to the currently applied specific discharge. It is therefore proposed to phase off the edges over 2 to 3 cm. 25-30 m3/s×m. the maximum discharge might not be the most critical case. Larger steps have a positive effect on the hydraulic performance. Very often this edge breaks. Decisions have to be taken about reinforcement. Shapes of the upstream part of the sidewalls and piers have to be chosen so that the reduction of the inflow capacity is minimized. It is recommended to use the values given above (see also Boes 2000a).htm (8 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . has to be checked for the whole range of discharges. Further investigations are needed to confirm that this is also true for higher discharges and higher steps. may be increased if aeration of the chute is assured from the top. The maximum specific discharge applied today. i. The construction and contraction joints have to be at the right position. Sometimes reinforced precast elements are used as lost formwork. the detailed structural design has to follow. 10 CONCLUSIONS Stepped spillways are a very convenient means to pass floods safely over RCC as well as fill dams. For the design of the stilling basin. 9 STRUCTURAL DESIGN INCLUDING FINAL DEFINITION OF SHAPES Once the basic dimensions and shapes of the spillway are given. giving an unpleasant appearance and may initiate further damage. The stilling basin. in addition to the calculation of the residual energy head at the toe of the dam. Depending on the tailwater.e. A critical point is always the edge of the steps. the tailwater rating curve is of utmost importance.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS for various discharges covering the total range of the considered discharges. RCC dams are unreinforced and an application of reinforcement at the stepped chute would complicate construction. The energy dissipation along the chute is exaggerated in many publications. The maximum discharge might not be the most critical case for the file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS.

army. (2000a) Zweiphasenströmung und Energieumsetzung auf Grosskaskaden (Twophase flow and energy dissipation on cascades). Boes. Air inception in skimming flow regime over stepped spillways.mil/library/publications/hydraulic_design_criteria/ Hager. COE/WES (2000). Rotterdam: 129-136. Intl. Chanson. R. Proc. H. USA: CD-ROM. W. Hager. of Stepped Spillways. Hager.-E. Minor & W. R. (2000).M. Proc. Hager. Minor & W. ETH Zurich (H. of Stepped Spillways. Scale effects in modelling two-phase stepped spillway flow. ETH Zu-rich (H.htm (9 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] .M & Minor.H. Guidelines for the hydraulic design of stepped spillways. ASDSO Annual Conference on Dam Safety.-E. Jl.M.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS energy dissipation. Doctoral Dissertation No 13510. eds. & Boes. Boes (2000c). Rotterdam: 163-170. VAW.). Providence. Proc. file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. Backwater and drawdown curves in stepped spillway flows. Balkema. since these may affect the capacity and the performance. Workshop on Hydr. eds. (1994). (2000).-E.). Balkema. R. Res. Proc. Minor & W.H. Rotterdam: 61-67. Intl.H. Hager. Corps of Engineers / Waterways Exper.-E. http://chl. (2000b). of Hydr. Proc. R.H. ETH Zu-rich (H. References Boes. H. Station.-E. VAW.M. Comparison of energy dissipation between nappe and skimming flow regimes on stepped chutes. (2000). Rotterdam: 53-60. ETH Zu-rich (H. Minor & W. Workshop on Hydr.).R. eds. Boes. Workshop Hydr. Intl. of Stepped Spillways. Balkema. 32(2): 213-218. Much care must be taken when defining the right shapes of all contours that are in contact with water. Workshop on Hydr. VAW. eds. Balkema. Two-phase flow and energy dissipation on stepped spillways. Hydraulic Design Criteria. ETH Zurich (in German).wes. VAW. H.). Chamani. M. of Stepped Spillways.

& Hager. & Elviro García. Proc. Intl. ETH Zurich.3 15. Treppenschussrinnen (Stepped Spillways). Proc. Workshop on Hydr. H.19 1:0. f [°] Slope V:H 0. (2000). Balkema. H. Rotterdam. Intl. Symp.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS Mateos Iguácel. of Stepped Spillways. Hager. Balkema.6 23. Schläpfer. eds. (2000). Stepped spillway studies at CEDEX. ETH Zurich (H. Intl. Hager. eds. Proc. Balkema. on New Trends and Guidelines on Dam Safety. Report of the European R&D Working Group “Floods”. ETH Zurich (in German).4 42.htm (10 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] .-E. Minor. VAW. of Stepped Spillways.9 49.7 90.).2 17. VAW.).4 1.3 30 40 50 1:1. Spillways for high velocities. Berga. Minor. Proc. ETH Zurich (H. Minor & W.-E. Balkema. C.3 121.73 1:1.H. Workshop on Hydr.2 66. W.2 139. Table 1 Maximum specific discharge qmax in m3/s⋅m that can be spilled without risk of cavitation damage for uniform flow as a function of spillway slope and step height. (2000).-E. Minor & W. Intl.1 78. Diploma Thesis. eds.2 file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS.. VAW. Rotterdam: 87-94. Rotterdam: 3-10.-E.).-E.2 s [m] 0. Workshop on Hydr.4 0. ed. V. Barcelona (L.H. Rotterdam: 1541-1550. of Stepped Spillways.H. D. Minor.9 43. (1998). H. VAW.84 8. (2000).

u as a function of roughness Froude number Fr* = q/(g sin f s3)1/2 for different spillway slopes.htm (11 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] . file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS. 1 Bottom air concentration in uniform flow Cb. Fig.HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS Fig. 2 Relative residual energy Hres/Hmax as a function of relative dam height Hdam/hc for different spillway slopes.

HYDRAULIC DESIGN OF STEPPED SPILLWAYS file:///D|/TRABAJO/Otros/HYDRAULIC%20DESIGN%20OF%20STEPPED%20SPILLWAYS.htm (12 of 12) [19-05-2010 19:43:35] .

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