Upgrading dam safety systems23 August 2023
Canary Systems upgraded dam safety systems at the Rocky Mountain hydroelectric plant and the Kentucky lock and dam. It provided real-time monitoring and improved decision-making using automated data acquisition equipment, software, and comprehensive databases
The Rocky Mountain Hydroelectric Plant is a pumped storage power plant located 16km northwest of Rome in the US state of Georgia. It is named after Rocky Mountain, on top of which the plant’s upper reservoir is located, has an installed capacity of 1095MW and is owned by both Oglethorpe Power and Georgia Power.
The upper reservoir covers 0.9km2 and is formed on Rocky Mountain above the lower reservoir by a 36.5m tall and 3930m long continuous earth and rock-fill dam. The upper reservoir lies at an elevation of 424m while the lower reservoir is at 216m. The lower reservoir covers an area of 2.4km2, impounds Heath Creek and is created by two embankment dams and a 36.5m tall gravity/embankment composite dam.
The gravity section features a spillway with two Tainter gates. Two other auxiliary reservoirs are located adjacent to the lower reservoir and serve to provide additional water during periods of drought and are also used to sustain wildlife and provide for recreation.
Canary Systems was tasked with supplying automated data acquisition equipment, software and services to improve and upgrade the dam safety instrumentation system (DSIS) at the Rocky Mountain plant. This project required the deployment of a comprehensive range of automated data acquisition equipment, software, and services to ensure the safety and optimal performance of the hydroelectric facility.
Canary Systems constructed a project database and aggregated historical data from manually collected measurements including weirs, settlement monuments, and standpipes, as well as automated piezometer data. This established a dynamic foundation for the project and ensured that there was accurate and reliable data to work with.
The use of automated piezometer data is particularly noteworthy, as it allows for continuous monitoring of water pressure and levels in the ground, providing real-time data on subsurface conditions. Such information is crucial for assessing potential risks and identifying any changes in subsurface conditions that may impact the project.
Establishment of a dynamic foundation for the project through the use of a comprehensive database also allows for better decision-making and risk management. By having access to historical data, project managers can identify trends and patterns that may impact the project and take proactive measures to address any potential issues.
The existing DAQ hardware was replaced with Canary Systems’ hardware, which consisted of a combination of Campbell Scientific dataloggers and vibrating wire interfaces integrated with new multiplexers and radio/fiber optic communication devices. This upgrade significantly improved the performance of the automated data acquisition system (ADAS) and allowed for the efficient collection of data from various sensor locations via fiber optic or radio. Additionally, each sensor location was equipped with a multiplexer and AVW200 Vibrating Wire Interface to facilitate communication with the existing vibrating wire sensors, and to allow for system expansion in the future.
Furthermore, to ensure that the hydroelectric plant was operating under optimal weather conditions, a fourth datalogger was installed to monitor various weather parameters, including wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, and rainfall. This enabled the plant operators to make informed decisions and take appropriate action in case of adverse weather conditions.
Canary Systems personnel conducted several days of field support to finalise the system installation and conduct a system startup to assure the ADAS was functioning properly. This also meant organizing the MultiLogger configurations for each system to include zero readings, gauge factors and offsets for all channels.
To facilitate datalogger programming, automated collection of data from the dataloggers, and database management, Canary Systems installed its MultiLogger Suite software on a Windows Server at the plant. MLSuite provides a robust data collection and data management platform for the plant’s automated and manually collected historical data.
Kentucky lock and dam
The Kentucky Lock and Dam is a vital infrastructure project owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). It is located on the Tennessee River near the town of Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and is one of four lock and dam systems on the river that facilitate navigation and regulate water levels for hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, and other uses. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was constructed in the mid-20th century and has since been a crucial part of the region’s transportation and energy infrastructure.
The facility includes a 33.5m lock that allows barges and other large vessels to navigate the river, and a hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 156MW. The dam provides flood control measures, ensuring the safety of local communities and businesses in times of high water.
Canary Systems was tasked with upgrading the Kentucky Lock and Dam’s existing system with new components to improve operational efficiency. This included installing new instrumentation to gather and analyse data in real-time. Additionally, it needed to set up and maintain an instrumentation database that allowed authorised personnel to access the collected data from remote locations. To ensure secure data transfer, it also needed to establish and maintain a SFTP data management site.
As part of the ongoing maintenance efforts, Kentucky Lock and Dam performs regular site maintenance activities to keep the systems functioning optimally. The following project objectives assisted Kentucky Lock and Dam with the modernisation of their infrastructure and helped streamline their operations.
Canary Systems installation
Canary Systems has installed several key technologies at Kentucky Lock and Dam to support their monitoring needs with installation commencing in 2019. This included nine MLDAQ general purpose data acquisition systems, one wireless remote monitor, one wireless access point, and 16 vibrating wire piezometers. A total of 40 vibrating wire piezometers are being monitored to provide detailed information on groundwater pressure and movement. Additionally, 75 vibrating wire joint meters are being monitored in a 3D configuration to provide precise measurements of ground deformation.
The installation also included 22 bi-axial tiltmeters and two automated robotic total stations for precise angle and displacement measurements. Prisms are being used for monitoring structural movement, while eight current sensors provide data on electrical current flow and in-place inclinometer arrays are being used to monitor slope movement and stability. The system also includes monitoring of 42 load cells to measure the weight of the structure and its components.
The sensors installed are being used to provide detailed, real-time data on the structural and environmental conditions at the dam. Using MLWeb, the powerful web-based software platform developed by Canary Systems, the multiple types of instrumentation installed can be viewed in a single, centralized platform. MLWeb is designed to be highly customisable and scalable, allowing users to configure the platform to meet their specific needs. The platform can be configured to send alerts and notifications when certain thresholds are exceeded, ensuring that users are always aware of any potential issues. The platform also supports automated data processing and analysis, reducing the time and effort required to manage and analyze large volumes of data.
For communication, two cell modems have been installed to enable reliable data transfer. In addition, a Wi-Fi network has been set up using PakBus addressing to provide secure and convenient access to the data. The system also includes Sharefile sync, allowing for easy and efficient sharing of files and data.
Additionally, Python scripts have been implemented to support custom data processing and analysis needs. Together, these technologies provide Kentucky Lock and Dam with a powerful and flexible system for monitoring, reporting, and analysis.
Thanks to Canary Systems’ MLSuite software, Kentucky Lock and Dam is receiving a range of valuable deliverables to support their project goals. These include monthly reports generated using MLReport, which produces a comprehensive document of over 200 pages. Additionally, weekly reports are produced during the excavation dewatering process, while bi-weekly reports are generated for the remaining 12 months of the contract after dewatering is complete.
These reports provide critical information and updates on the project’s progress. Installation logs are also created, documenting the installation of instrumentation, and monitoring equipment. Together, these deliverables provide essential data and insights throughout the duration of the project.
Canary Systems’ software acts as a powerful analysis tool that enables users to identify trends and patterns in the data collected from the multiple instrumentation types, in one unified view. This makes it easier to detect changes in dam behaviour and to take corrective action as needed. The software can also be used to create and view 3D models of the dam and surrounding area, providing a visual representation of the infrastructure and helping to identify potential problem areas.
Overall, the use of Canary Systems software and reporting tools can help dam owners and operators to effectively monitor the health and stability of their infrastructure.
The software streamlines data management and analysis, reduces the risk of errors, and enables more efficient and effective decision-making says the company.