Has the rock moved?
Initially the team used the insights provided by Rezatec’s Dam Monitoring platform to back up inspection reporting to FERC. Jeanne explains, “A predecessor had written in a quarterly inspection report ‘looks like the rip rap has settled a bit, rest of dam is safe’. Clearly the regulator’s job is to call out anything that looks like it could lead to potential failure and so they were asking us what we were going to do, did we have photographs, were we setting up monitoring? It’s tricky to provide evidence of non-movement, trying to figure out the exact location then take photos of the same feature from the same place in the same light in different seasons.”
“Because we’re a run-of-river dam, our tailrace increases 15 to 20 feet and seasonal run-off is on top of that,” adds Seth. “By the time the Spring run-off and debris deposition is complete, the rip rap-covered area looks completely different.”
Instead of deploying measuring devices, the team is using geospatial AI data to evidence non-movement on the rip rap and embankments. “Establishing a robust process is important, says Jeanne. “Rezatec’s data really fits to solve the puzzles and gives us solid evidence that satisfies FERC’s questions.”
Data that’s never before been available
Upriver Dams’ control room staff are on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are required to do two checks per shift, walking the property and reporting anything irregular. Seth and Jeanne then do follow up inspections as needed.
On top of that, the team completes regular physical inspections and has evolved its inspection report to remain in line with FERC guidelines. This involves walking the entire project, inspecting the power houses, surveying all the embankments and the MSE walls, checking for vegetation and checking the power canal. “Anything we see that could potentially be something we want to look at again, we take typically between 60 and 100 photographs every inspection,” explains Seth.
“We really value the long-term trending data provided by Rezatec,” adds Jeanne. “We rely less on the anomaly data because we have staff on site and we’re heavily instrumented. Our control room staff conduct continuous surveillance every day but Rezatec is giving us information we can’t get: movement over time that’s too fine to detect with the naked eye.”
“The other part of it is checking trends to see where we might be starting to go south either with movement or vegetation. We get an early warning of that trend, we investigate and do something about it before it turns into a bigger issue.”