Relief Well Rehabilitation Options in Chief Joseph Dam Right Abutment Drainage Tunnel
Garon, Katherine Anne
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This report summarizes the data, observations, methods, assumptions, and decisions for the design of the Relief Well Rehabilitation Project in the Right Abutment Drainage Tunnel at Chief Joseph Dam. Chief Joseph Dam (CJD) is a dam on the Columbia River and is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It is the second only to Grand Coulee dam as the largest producer of hydropower in the United States. The right abutment drainage tunnel contains wooden stave relief wells. Water flows from these wells which reduces the hydrostatic pressure in the right abutment of the dam. The 22 wells in the floor of the tunnel are 60 years old and are in need of rehabilitation. The objective of this project is to control the groundwater gradient, prevent the movement of sediment, stop total screen collapse, and prevent initiation of backwards erosion and piping in the abutment. The rehabilitation solution is to install new stainless steel screens into the existing wells, backfill the annular space between the old wooden screen and the new stainless steel screens with a 3/8-inch pea gravel filter pack, and install a new top cap to hold the new screen in place. This report documents the data, observations, and methods used to complete the final design. During tunnel inspections USACE geologists observed dislodged end plugs and evidence of sediment movement out of the formation. The relief wells have historically high flows between 6,000 gallons per minute (gpm) to 9,000 gpm. New screens are designed based on as-built data and historic tunnel flow. The new screens are 8-in diameter, 100 slot (0.10-inch) screens. We found that screen diameter and slot size would provide adequate transmitting capacity for most of the relief wells. The filter pack gradation is based on descriptions from foundation construction reports. I found that 3/8-inch pea gravel is appropriate for the abutment material. During design, I also considered an option to install the screens into the relief wells without filter pack. I eliminated this option because it did not meet our rehabilitation objective to prevent total failure of the wooden screens.