In recent years, the design flows of many dams were re-evaluated, often resulting in discharges larger than the original design. In many cases, the occurrence of the revised flows could result in dam overtopping because of insufficient storage and spillway capacity. An experimental study was conducted herein to gain a better understanding of the flow properties in stepped chutes with slopes typical of embankment dams. The work was based upon a Froude similitude in large-size experimental facilities. A total of 10 configurations were tested including smooth steps, steps equipped with devices to enhance energy dissipation and rough steps. The present results yield a new design procedure. The design method includes some key issues not foreseen in prior studies : e.g., gradually varied flow, type of flow regime, flow resistance. It is believed that the outcomes are valid for a wide range of chute geometry and flow conditions typical of embankment chutes.

Keywords: stepped spillways, skimming flows, embankment dams, air entrainment, flow resistance, hydraulic design, energy dissipation.

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