Safe systems

August 01, 2017

GMW's Kevin Jones checking dam instrumentation at Lake Eildon in 1996.

For more than 38 years technician Kevin Jones has been working alongside dam safety counterparts at Goulburn-Murray Water to monitor and ensure the integrity of the region’s dams.

Based at G-MW’s Hume office, he provides technical support and advice to dam operators ensuring the smooth operation of dam safety surveillance systems.

Mr Jones and his team monitor sensors that collect data on pressure and movement within the dam embankment.

‘‘G-MW dam operators are the first line of defence in monitoring dam wall behaviour and our instrumentation assists with this,’’ he said.

‘‘External points are also monitored for vertical and lateral movements.’’

Since starting his career as a technical officer at Dartmouth Dam, then the tallest dam in the southern hemisphere, Mr Jones has moved throughout the region.

At Dartmouth, Mr Jones was responsible for visual inspections of the dam, maintaining town water supply and sewerage systems, water sampling and maintaining the Dartmouth seismic network.

‘‘It’s been a rewarding and challenging career and I have been directly involved with rehabilitation and safety upgrades at 18 large dams and weirs across G-MW,’’ he said.

The number of instruments at each dam is influenced by the size of the structure, the quality of foundation, the quality of construction and the technology available at the time of construction.

Recently Mr Jones has been working with Melbourne Water and Tasmanian Irrigation staff to provide information on pneumatic piezometers, which are used to measure pore water pressure in saturated soils. This data helps to ensure safe rates of fill or excavation, determine slope stability and check the performance of earth fill dams and embankments.

Outside of work Mr Jones operates his own beef farm in Tallangatta Valley.

‘‘I love doing it and consider it a very good work-life balance. One thing is for sure — you never get a sleep in. There’s always something to do,’’ he said.

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