The water retention ability of a dam is a criterion of prime importance that requires the expertise of a design, construction and maintenance specialist. VSL offers a diverse range of solutions meeting this requirement, and which can be combined to create bespoke packages or applied as standalone services for dam construction projects.

Ground investigation

Ahead of a dam construction project, it is vital to investigate and assess the properties of the ground and groundwater. This enable faults to be located and the degree of fracture to be quantified. These investigations will guide the scheme’s construction methods and costs, and are also crucial to guarantee the quality, durability and stability of the dam’s foundations.

Ground improvement

The improvement of ground properties guarantees solid foundations and therefore, improved stability, durability, and increased success of construction works. Ground improvement also reduces the cost of foundation works. Ground improvement methods include:

  • soil consolidation;
  • environmental protection;
  • temporary consolidation;
  • dewatering; and
  • grouting.

Cut-off walls

Cut-off walls are used to prevent unwanted movement – typically of liquids – in and out of the ground and they play an important role in large structures like dams. They act as seepage barriers to isolate an area both upstream – by retaining water in the dam’s reservoir – and downstream, protecting the river.

Ground anchors for dam construction

VSL Technologies

Ground anchors mobilize dead loads deep in the ground in order to resist forces that would otherwise require large gravity foundations.  They help secure huge structures like major dams by improving slope stabilization and by preventing overturning caused by excessive flood levels. They can also allow a reduction in costs in the dam construction phase when installed for either temporary or permanent stabilization.


Retained-earth walls can support very heavy loads at any stage of dam construction. They can be used to stabilize slopes, support excavations and achieve temporary or permanent retention of earth or water.

Post-tensioning for dam construction

VSL Technologies

Post-tensioning is an active structural reinforcement technique that can be used to optimize a dam’s design and stability. It allows significant savings due to shorter construction times and a reduction in the amount of construction materials required. The incorporation of post-tensioning also gives the flexibility to design optimized structures that include continuous monitoring.


VSL Technologies

Monitoring gives greater confidence in the construction and service-life of a structure, and is particularly important for industrial or energy-producing structures like dams.

Preservation, structural repairs and upgrading

A dam failure, resulting in an uncontrolled release of the reservoir’s contents, can have a devastating effect on the people, property and infrastructure downstream. It is essential to carry out regular inspection and maintenance together with design assessments that take account of any updated loadings.

As soon as your dam is built, it enters a long-term life cycle with evolving needs and regular preservation, repairs and upgrading requirements.
Discover how to preserve your asset