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Dam and Levee Leak Detection

Earthen embankments including levees, tailings dams, and earthen dams present many challenging problems for Civil Engineers, particularly in verification of their structural integrity and capacity, operation and maintenance (O&M), inspection, and safety. The sheer size and scale, age, and uncertainty of materials in these sometimes mammoth structures, all combine to present a difficult array of parameters for the levee professional to navigate when analyzing a new or existing levee or dam.

To make things more difficult, there is an ever growing number of assets and lives these structures protect downstream or in the “flood plain,” and more and more emphasis is being placed on the vulnerability of these structures. Also, in the wake of flood disasters associated with Hurricane Katrina and others, a complex regulatory environment has emerged; requiring engineers to certify structural and geotechnical fortitude, and levee and dam asset owners and engineers are exposed to more liability than ever.

Recent advances in instrumentation technologies and applications are providing new ways the Civil Engineer examines these structures, and present engineers with a set of monitoring tools never thought possible. Distributed fiber optic technologies create sensors that are of scale and size to finally match the dam or levee, and present an interesting, reliable, cost effective way of monitoring these structures.

Click here to download the full PDF version of the Dam and Levee Leak Detection paper.

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