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El Atazar Problem

  • Monitoring of the dam revealed movement, often normal in dams. But the left side was moving more than the right. This was because the left abutment was a hillside, more deformable than the right abutment. Also, a support had been built on the right side of the dam, making that side more stiff (and less moveable).

  • In 1977, a crack was noticed just left of the center of the dam about 98.4 ft (30 m) above the foundation on the upstream side of the dam. This is noted as one of the worst places for cracking to occur in an arch dam. Water was now leaking out through the crack into drains in the dam at a rate of 53 ft3/min.

  • In February of 1978, the leak increased to a rate of 318 ft3/min as a result of heavy rain.

  • The crack grew almost 150 ft both to the left and to the right and could be seen from one of the dam's inspection galleries.

  • In 1979, the crack was repaired.

  • In 1980, maximum storage was reached.

  • In 1983, it was found that settling had occurred in the foundations and the movements of the dam caused fracturing in the rock. The permeability of the foundation had increased significantly.

  • Treatment of the foundation has decreased the movements and the foundation.

  • It is interesting to note that this headline appeared in a Spanish newspaper in 1985. It says that no crack existed in El Atazar Dam. Who would say this, when there was obviously a crack in the dam? Politicians.

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