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The dams constructed in the twentieth and the ninetieth centaury failed to meet their main purpose of storing water as they leaked despite the many engineering and technological efforts. The leakage was as a result of the failure of these dams to hold water or because the water in dams eat up the material making the dams leading to a structural failure. It was this alarming situation that called for the introduction of a better method of constructing dams that would address the above issues. The type of material used in the construction of the new type of dam was a major breakthrough in development of the modern reliable dams. Engineers and scientists at that time settled on fill embankments as the permanent solution to this issue thus the name fill dams. This paper addresses how the introduction of the fill embankments has changed the dams dimensions while referring to the article written by Weller titled, “The new material that will revolutionize earth fill dam dimensions” published in the year 2003 (Weller 2003).
The concrete dams constructed in the past were expensive and unstable. The fill dams design has revolutionized all this as they are cheaper. They make use of rock or soil with are in most cases found on the dam site. The technology employed is less costly though complex. The availability of materials, stability with mass and low cost make it possible for fill dams to be built even across water courses that were earlier considered as being to broad. The Sri Lanka and India ancient engineers are credited for being the successful pioneers of this new form of design and contraction. The Aswan High Dam forms the recent and famous construction of such dams situated across the Nile River in the 1970’s. (Weller, 2003).
As a result of the leaking problem that was being witnessed in the past, modern and quality engineers came up with the construction of fill dams making use of material that have lower properties strength compared to concrete and steel used in the concrete dams. This move was under consideration of the strength determined by placement ultimate to solve problems of erosion and seepage ensuring safety and performance. The construction of this type of dam involves different specialists like the geotechnical who takes the role of ensuring the earth and the design material match to bring out a safe product. The other professionals include; construction technicians, geologists, and engineers. Most of fill dams are constructed with zones that include a clay core or center, drainage layer and filter with coarser materials pressing the clay core together as well as a rock layer on the upstream side facing the water so as to prevent erosion. The zones are constructed in such a manner that they cut across the upstream up to the downstream parts of the dam as the stability and durability of the dams is dependent on its weight (Weller, 2003).
The construction and design of fill dam in future has to take into consideration the primarily environmental concerns making it a controversial and much studied process. Despite this future concerns, fill dams are still perceived to be more environmental friendly as they are constructed using earth materials then later blended into a scenery that is far much better than the concrete structures that were monolithic. These type of dams have so far proved to be useful and cheaper solutions satisfying the human needs for water. They have also provided a vast and remarkable improvement in the late twentieth centaury regarding the engineering technology. Although many agendas and costs have to be considered before building dams, fill dams have so far and looks to continue proving to be allies in many areas like providing drinking water , food control and irrigation supply in future (Weller2003).