Dam Overtopping Protection Systems Part 2: Download

This is the second of a two-part series on overtopping protection systems for embankment and concrete dams. Many dams today have insufficient spillway capacity and may be overtopped during large floods below the regulatory requirement. In recent years, dam overtopping protection has become increasingly popular as a means to provide additional flood release capacity when more conventional methods such as increasing spillway discharge capacity or reservoir storage are cost prohibitive or impractical. This course will present the process of evaluating protections systems for use in spillway applications. A summary of determining appropriate project hydraulic conditions will be followed by a brief history of prototype research conducted on multiple types of protecting technologies. Results of these tests will be presented in support of design methodologies where new methods for determining project FOS and numerically evaluating hydraulic jump system performance will be recommended. Procedures outlined in NRCS NEH Part 628 Chapter 54, “Articulated Concrete Block Armored Spillways” will be presented in an effort to show a standardized evaluation approach whereby permitting evaluation of multiple protection system technologies. The presentation will conclude with an example of a design application.

Key takeaways:

  1. Understanding of important spillway analysis techniques and design parameters.
  2. Familiarization with prototype testing protocols for steep slope applications.
  3. Necessity of selecting the appropriate design method.
  4. Ability to evaluate project requirements across multiple protection techniques.
  5. Guidelines for submittal requirements necessary for alternative analysis.

Christopher I. Thornton, Ph.D., P.E.

Associate Professor, Director, Colorado State University

Dr. Chris Thornton is the Director of the Engineering Center and Hydraulics Laboratory at Colorado State University.  He received his PhD in Hydraulics at Colorado State University and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Colorado.  He has over 18 years of experience in conducting hydraulic model studies and has specialized in high energy, supercritical flow conditions and performing prototype performance tests on erosion control techniques.  Chris and his team have recently developed a wave overtopping simulator and are currently investigating the stability of dam and levee protective layers from the combined effects of wave and steady state overtopping.  Dr. Thornton teaches the Senior Design series for the graduating Civil and Environmental Engineering students and has authored and co-authored numerous papers and reports in the area of open channel hydraulics.


Selecting Dam Overtopping Protection over Traditional Methods to Pass Design Floods 

Overview of Common Overtopping Protection Systems for Embankment Dams 

Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) 

Articulated Concrete Blocks (ACB) 

Grass and Reinforced Turf 

Riprap and Reinforced Rockfill 

Continuously-Reinforced Concrete (CRC) 

Other Systems – Wedgeblocks, Gabions, Fabriform, and Geomembranes 

Overview of Overtopping Protection for Concrete Dams 



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