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THE SOBRADINHO RESERVOIR AND THE SO FRANCISCO RIVER CONTROL DURING XINGO DAM CONSTRUCTION* Jos Aquino de Souza

Civil Engineer, Consultant, Brazil Antonio Eurides Conte Civil Engineer, Consultant, Brazil Alberto J C T Cavalcanti Civil Engineer, Companhia Hidro Eltrica do So Francisco, Brazil Aurlio Alves de Vasconcelos Head Civil Engineer Divison, Companhia Hidro Eltrica do So Francisco, Brazil

1. 1.1

INTRUDUCTION

THE SO FRANCISCO RIVER

The So Francisco River has its source in the Serra da Canastra (Minas Gerais) and flows in a northern direction, discharging into the Atlantic Ocean after running for about 2,700 km. Its average annual discharge reaches close to 100 billion cubic meters of water. The basin of the So Francisco River encompasses an area totaling close to 640,000 km2 between the longitudes 3630' and 4731 west, and between the latitudes 730' and 21. The basin includes parts of six states (Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Gois) and of the Federal District, with 84% of its area contained in Minas Gerais and Bahia. Considering its longitudinal development, the So Francisco River is subdivided into four stretches: the High, Middle, Sub-Middle and Low So Francisco. The High So Francisco comprises the Central part of the State of Minas Gerais that consists of terrain between the elevations 1,200 m and 470 m. Along 700 km, the mean declivity of this stretch varies 0.7 to 0.2 m/km. The area of the Middle So Francisco extends from the mouth of the Jequita River to the city of Remanso, covering a stretch of approximately 1,040 km, with a mean declivity between 0.2 and 0.1 m/km, with altitudes varying between the elevations of 470 m and 370 m. The Sub-Middle So Francisco, with an extension of 686 km, is located between the cities of Remanso and Paulo Afonso, with altitudes that vary between 370 and 200 m in a profile of low declivities.

Finally, the Low So Francisco, in which the Xing hydroelectric development is located, consists of a stretch reaching from Paulo Afonso to the Atlantic Ocean, covering a final distance of 274 km, dropping close to 200 m in only 40 km, to reach the low coastal plain and flowing gently into the ocean. The map in Fig. 1 situates the Xing hydroelectric development in the hydrographic basin of the So Francisco River

Figure 1 Drainage basin of the So Francisco River

1.2

THE SOBRADINHO HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT

The Sobradindo Hydrolectric Project is located in the So Francisco River, at the Bahia state, approximately 40 Km upstream the cities of Juazeiro (Bahia) and Petrolina (Pernambuco). Its catchments area is 498 968 km2. Besides the local power generation, the Sobradinho reservoir has a multi annual function of flow regulation for the domnstream hydroelectric projects of Itaparica, Moxoto, Paulo Afonso and Xingo. Others important purposes are water supply for irrigation, navigation and flood protection. At the normal water level of 392,50 m the reservoir is 320 Km long and its surface has 4.214 km2. The live volume is 34.1 billions of cubic meters, assuring a regulated flow of 2.060 m3/s.The main dam is an earth-rockfil structure, 41 m high. The power house is equipped with 6 Kaplan turbines of 175.05 MW each one. The irrigation water intake can supply 25 m3/s for the agricultural projects in the So Francisco valley. The Project is equipped with a navigation lock, 17 m wide and 120 m long, wich transposes the 32.5 m head, allowing the navigation between the cities of Pirapora at Minas Gerais state and Juazeiro/Petrolina. 1.3 THE XINGO HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT.

The Xing Hydroelectric Project on the So Francisco River, results from the exploitation of 120 m of available head between the tailwater of the Paulo Afonso Power Plants and the end of the stretch of the river in the canyon. The Power Plant, with an installed capacity of 3,000 MW (5,000 MW in the second stage) is part of CHESF - Companhia Hidro Eltrica do So Francisco Hydroelectric Complex. This complex, formed by the Sobradinho, Itaparica, Paulo Afonso I, II, III, IV, Moxot and Xing dams, reaches a total available power of about 10,000 MW. The Xing Project consists of a concrete face rockfill dam (CFRD), spillway on the left bank with two chutes and 12 gates, Powerhouse, Water Intake and four dikes on the right bank. The works are located at the section of the lower So Francisco gorge which was diverted through four 16 m diameter tunnels with a rectangular section and semi-circular roof on the right bank. The upstream cofferdam is 50 m high and the downstream one 28 m high. The downstream slope of the central section of the rockfill dam below elevation 50 m was built with RCC Roller Compacted Concrete, so that in the diversion stage the dam could be overtopped during high flows without damage. Photo 1 shows an aerial view and Fig. 2 the general arrangement of the Project. Fig. 3 shows a section of the concrete face rockfill dam.

Photo 1 Xingo Project general view

Figure 2 Xingo General Layout

Figure 3 CFRD cross section

2.

RIVER DIVERSION SCHEME AT XINGO DAM

The diversion of the river to permit the execution of the central stretch of the dam required the construction of an upstream cofferdam 50.0 m in height, 4 tunnels of 16.00 m diameter excavated in the granitic rock, one downstream cofferdam 28.0 m high and a protection of roller compacted concrete on the downstream slope of the central portion of the rockfill embankment, would permit the overtopping of the dam by the flows resulting from hydrological situations with a recurrence time of up to 180 years. Under this conception the job would be safeguarded, during the first year of the diversion, against a recurrence of 30 years (corresponding to 10,500 m3/s) and the riverside population safeguarded against an eventual failure of the upstream cofferdam, up to a flow of 20,500 m3/s (capacity of the sill in the central stretch of the dam). In order to minimize the risks of damage downstream resulting from an eventual overtopping of the upstream cofferdam, or the failure of the dam under construction, studies were conducted on the stages of construction with the determination of the risks involved in each of these stages. The analyses included studies covering the possibility of relying on the benefits of the operating rules in effect in the Sobradinho and Itaparica reservoirs that permitted eliminating the construction of a 5th tunnel with the same diameter of 16 m adopted in the design of the four diversion tunnels. The studies concluded by stressing the need to foresee a contingency operational rule for the Sobradinho reservoir, combined with the schedule and constructive scheme of the diverse stages of construction and with some anticipated design measures that were taken with the intention of protecting both the upstream cofferdam and the downstream slope of the dam embankment against eventual overtopping. The security scheme adopted during the stages of construction comprised the following criteria and measures:

1st flood season after the diversion: - Crest of the upstream cofferdam at El. 50.00 m, with capacity to discharge through the tunnels flows with a recurrence time of up to 30 years, without overtopping; - Provision for the construction of an emergency channel, implanted in the left shoulder of the upstream cofferdam, to promote the controlled and anticipated filling of the enclosure between this cofferdam and the dam, also at El. 50.00 m, since there would be greater time available for this operation, thanks to the great operational flexibility of the Sobradinho reservoir; - Protection with RCC - Roller Compacted Concrete of the downstream slope of the central portion of the rockfill embankment that would permit the overtopping of the dam for the flows resulting from hydrological situations with a recurrence time of up to 180 years. 2nd flood season after the diversion: For the 2nd flood after the diversion, the job schedule predicted that the dam would have to be completed up to the El. 118.00 m. To support the passage of this rainy period, in addition to the four diversion tunnels, it would also be possible to rely on a breach of around 110 m width in the region of the approach channel to the spillway, excavated at El. 108.00 m, where 6 openings of the outlet discharge system would still be unfinished. In this situation, the safety of the works would be ensured during the passage of a flood corresponding to a recurrence period of 500 years. 3rd flood season after the diversion: In this stage of the construction, the spillway sill at El. 118.00 m should already be completed together with the dam, to permit passage of the maximum design discharge, in case of need.

3.

DIVERSION WORKS DESIGN

To permit the construction of the central rockfill embankment in the bed of the So Francisco River, a diversion system was designed, basically constituted by: four tunnels of arch-rectangle section with a diameter equal to 16.00 m each, with the capacity to discharge the maximum total design discharge of 10,500 m3/s, in accordance with the flood routing studies made, and taking into consideration the operating rules of the upstream reservoirs, pertaining to the CHESF System; The diversion intake in each tunnel was divided by a central concrete septum, permitting the installation of two sluices measuring 6.25 m in width by 16 m in height; the mouth of the tunnels 2, 3 and 4 was fixed at El. 23.00 m and that of tunnel 1 at El. 19.00 m due to the existence of the flood control structure, whose purpose was to maintain a discharge downstream during the filling of the reservoir. Photo 2 shows the initial stage of the diversion with the diversion intakes, the inlets of the four tunnels and the upstream cofferdam.

Photo 2 First construction stage, upstream view

4.

RIVER DIVERSION AND CONTROL

The river was diverted in July of 1991 and in February of 1992, the first wet period after the diversion, the upper So Francisco basin recorded its second greatest historical flood with inflow to Sobradinho (regularization reservoir of the So Francisco) of around 17,000 m3/s. The duration of 30 days for the propagation of the flood hydrograph in the river channel until reaching Sobradinho permitted CHESF Operation to anticipate the release of floods and create a storage capacity in the Sobradinho reservoir capable of cutting the peak of the flood to the limit of the discharge capacity of the Xing tunnels (see Fig. 4)

Figure 4 1992 So Francisco river flood hydrograph In the middle of January 1992 the rapid increase of the flow at the city of So Francisco, downstream of the Trs Marias hydroelectric power plant, configured the formation of a flood in the headwaters of the So Francisco basin that would become the second greatest flood of its historical record. The peak of this flood reached the city of Carinhanha on February 16 and would arrive at Sobradinho on March 6, i.e., about twenty days after its observation at the streamflow metering station of So Francisco. Fig. 5 below presents the evolution of the flood of 1992 during the diversion period, from the locality of So Francisco until reaching Xing.

Figure 5 1992 So Francisco flood routing In accordance with hydrological studies and simulations of the routing of the flood produced in the reservoirs upstream of Xing, the analyses of the risk of overtopping recommended that the dam should not be heightened above El. 50.00 m; the same elevation as the upstream cofferdam.

These studies guided the execution of several anticipated design precautions in order to protect the works and to avoid catastrophic damage downstream for flows of up to 180 years period of recurrence. The downstream slope of the dam at El. 50.00 m was protected with RCC, along a spilling width of approximately 200 m. Provision was also made, with an advance of 48 hours prior to the commencement of the overtopping of the upstream cofferdam, for it to be possible to fill with water the enclosure of around 6,000,000 m3 between that cofferdam and the main dam. The prior filling of this volume would have the purpose of leveling the water levels upstream and downstream of the cofferdam, minimizing losses of material during na eventual overtopping, and which would be effected through a side channel, of 12 m width at its base, located in the left shoulder of the above-mentioned upstream cofferdam, which would have a fusedike capable of being removed in sufficient advance time, in the case of such an emergency. Under these conditions, the general conception of the diversion only predicted the loss of the downstream cofferdam. The scheme adopted, therefore, did not admit any rupture of the dams that could cause artificial floods affecting the downstream riverside population. For that project situation, the prevision was of a flow of 13,000 m3/s through the four tunnels and 7,500 m3/s passing over the overtopping portion of the dam, with a head of 7.50 m over the sill protected with RCC, that is, with the maximum upstream water level at El. 57.50 m.

5.

CONCLUSIONS

During the flood of 1991/1992, the first after the diversion of the river into the four designed tunnels, completed in June of 1991, the diversion works at Xingo were submitted to their maximum design flow (Q=10,500 m3/s) for more than 40 days. The greatest natural floods flowing into the Sobradinho reservoir had occurred in 1949 and 1979, having reached peaks of around 15,000 m3/s and 18,000 m3/s, respectively, within a historical record of 63 years of observation. At the beginning of March, 1992, normally the period of the greatest flood peaks in Sobradinho, the maximum recorded peak was around 16,400 m3/s. However, if that flood had not undergone a prior damping in the Trs Marias reservoir, owned by the CEMIG, the value of that maximum peak could have reached close to 20,000 m3/s, corresponding to an estimated period of recurrence of about 200 years. In view of the large dimensions of the hydrographic basin (520,000 km2) down to the Sobradinho reservoir, the floods in transit were forecast at least 30 days in advance in that reservoir. Therefore, on February 7, 1992, since discharges of the order of 9,500 m3/s had already been released, the operation personnel of the CHESF decided to anticipate even further the discharges downstream, with the object of increasing the volumes of reserve capacity to

store the incoming flood, whose size had already been configured. With an advance of 30 days, the upstream plants began discharging the design flow of the diversion structures of Xing equal to 10,500 m3/s. During passage of the design flow, the hydraulic behavior of the diversion works was fully satisfactory. The conditions of the approach of the flow to the diversion intakes were excellent, without the observation of any adverse conditions of permanent vortices, or the observation of any large erosive effects upstream or downstream of the structures. The behavior of the impervious material of the upstream cofferdam, tangentially exposed to velocities of around 1.5 to 2.0 m/s, was considered quite satisfactory. The only problem that arose during this exceptional event was the verification that the rating curve of the tunnels, determined in the reduced model tests, didnt conform to the reality with flows of around 9,000 m3/s onwards. With this discharge through the tunnels, the water levels observed at the site were close to 0.70 m above the elevations of the rating curve (see Fig. 6). This difference is explained by the fact that the final tunnel sections excavated were not exactly those tested on the model, which certainly modified the conditions of roughness previously assumed.

Figure 6 Diversion tunnels discharge rating A positive fact during the diversion was the welladvised decision to heighten the upstream cofferdam 1.50 m and the consequent review of the scheme of the levels of alert, when confronted by the prospect of the discharges increasing to 10,500 m3/s (design flow). It is also necessary to remark the hydraulic behavior of the tunnels, subjected to velocities of around 11.5 m/s, and considered amply satisfactory, with only some more accentuated erosions on the slopes of the restitution channel of the diversion tunnels having been observed.

AKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors express their acknowledgments to Companhia Hidro Eltrica do So Francisco Chesf for the permission to publish this paper ant to engineer Corrado Piazentin for his support in reviewing the text.

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