The Akosombo Hydro Dam Spillage in Ghana resulted in a devastating flood that has had significant implications for the structural integrity of buildings in the affected areas. The Volta River Authority (VRA) started the controlled spillage at the Akosombo Hydro Dam from September 15 this year following excess water in the reservoir due to appreciable level of rainfall. The spillage according to official figures from the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) affected almost 150 rural communities along the lower Volta Basin, and displaced at least 36,000 people.
The flood following the dam spillage had a severe impact on buildings in the affected regions.
With the floodwaters receding, it has become essential to assess the damage and ensure the safety of these affected structures. This article discusses the aftermath of the flood and the reasons why conducting integrity tests, structure foundation tests, and soil porosity tests is crucial in such situations.
Floodwaters are known to exert tremendous pressure on structures, leading to various forms of damage, which may not always be immediately apparent. Some of the common issues observed in the aftermath of such floods include:
Structural Damage:The inundation of water can weaken the structural elements of buildings, causing cracks in walls, foundations, and other load-bearing components.
Erosion: The force of flowing water can erode the soil surrounding foundations, potentially undermining the stability of the structure.
Material Deterioration:Prolonged exposure to water can lead to the deterioration of building materials, including wood rot, corrosion of metal components, and degradation of concrete.
Foundation Settlement: Flooding can alter the soil underneath a building’s foundation, causing differential settlement and uneven stress on the structure.
Contamination: Floodwaters may bring in contaminants and pollutants that can adversely affect the integrity of materials used in construction.
Importance of Integrity Testing
Integrity testing is vital in the post-flood scenario for several reasons:
Identification of Hidden Damage: It helps identify structural damage that might not be readily visible, ensuring that any compromised elements are addressed.
Safety Assessment: It ensures the safety of occupants and the public by determining if a building is structurally sound or in need of repair or reinforcement.
Preservation of Property Value: Early detection of damage through integrity testing can help mitigate further deterioration, preserving the value of the property.
Importance of Structure Foundation Testing
Structure foundation testing is crucial for the following reasons:
- Foundation Stability: It assesses the stability of building foundations to determine if they have been compromised by erosion or settlement caused by the flood.
- Preventing Structural Failures: Identifying foundation issues early can prevent catastrophic structural failures that could endanger lives and property.
- Necessary Repairs: It guides the repair and reinforcement efforts, ensuring that foundations are restored to their intended stability and load-bearing capacity.
Importance of Soil Porosity Testing
Soil porosity testing is essential for the following reasons:
- Soil Condition Assessment: It helps assess the condition of the soil, particularly its porosity and compaction, which can have a direct impact on the stability of foundations.
- Foundation Design Modifications: The test results can inform modifications in foundation design and construction techniques to better withstand future flooding.
- Risk Mitigation: Understanding the porosity of the soil allows for better risk assessment and planning for flood-prone areas.
The aftermath of a flood, such as the one resulting from the Akosombo Hydro Dam Spillage in Ghana, poses significant challenges for building structures. Conducting integrity tests, structure foundation tests, and soil porosity tests is critical to ensure the safety of occupants, prevent further damage, and plan for future flood resilience. This proactive approach can help in the recovery and reconstruction efforts and protect lives and property in flood-prone regions such as the Volta, Easten, and Greater Accra Regions.
Published by Ing. Peter Debrah (Expect in Oil, Gas and Marine Structure development)