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Delft-FEWS extended with real-time Dam Stability Analyses

Multi-purpose water reservoirs and dams play a major role in water supply, irrigation, hydropower and flood protection in India. The dams are not only ageing, but they are also facing different circumstances now as opposed to when they were designed, often decades ago, due to changes in land use, socio-economic developments and climate change.

DAMSAFE is a pilot project to demonstrate a number of innovative technologies that contribute to the main project goal: enhancing dam safety and water reservoir management. The project is co-funded by the Dutch Partners for Water program.  The key end-user of the project outcome is the Karnataka Water Resources Department (KaWRD), one of the major departments in the Government of Karnataka responsible for management of 230 large dams and reservoirs.  In DAMSAFE an operational monitoring and forecasting system was implemented using Delft-FEWS not only for forecasting of reservoir inflow and water levels but also for real-time analyses of the dam stability.

The pilot case of the DAMSAFE project is the Bhadra dam-reservoir system in the Chikkamagalore District of Karnataka State. This is a multi-purpose dam, including irrigation, water supply and hydropower generation. The dam was finished in 1962. It includes a main masonry dam, a spillway with four gates and two saddle (earthen) dams. 

Main dam with spillway gates seen from the lake

Here, an online monitoring system has been installed by the Dutch company Royal Eijkelkamp to monitor the water reservoir and identified the dam failure mechanism. All measurement stations are equipped with a battery and solar panel for energy supply and a wireless connection for real-time data transmission. For monitoring of the dam, (pore) water pressures sensors were installed in the dam body and in the dam foundation. The Delft-FEWS forecasting of reservoir inflow was extended with the Dam Analyses Module (DAM) to calculate dam stability in real-time. The numerical calculations are based on these measurements and geotechnical failure models for sliding & overturning of the main dam and macro-stability of the saddle dams.

Delft-FEWS output of the development of stability of the main dam

The graph shows the real-time increase in dam stability of the main dam for the sliding & overturning mechanisms as a result of a decrease in measured reservoir water level and pore water pressures in the dam foundation.

Block revetment of one of the saddle (embankment) dams

Measurement station at the river inlet into the reservoir

For more information, please contact Ton Peters: or Min Xu:

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