May 11th, 2023: A Bolivian delegation from the Ministry of Environment and Water and CAF-Bolivia visited the Escuela de Caminos to learn more about Dam Safety

After having visited various Spanish institutions related to dams, and accompanied by Ángel Bautista Yáñez, Head of Service of Infrastructure Safety, of the General Directorate of Water, of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge of Spain, we were visited by a delegation from the Ministry of Environment and Water of Bolivia, and CAF-Bolivia, with the aim of being interested in issues of Safety in Dams. Vicente Alcaraz, deputy director of International Relations, Development Cooperation, and Companies of the Escuela de Caminos (UPM), received this delegation with a few words of welcome.

The coordinator of this Bolivian delegation, Ramiro Legano, and his team made up mostly of civil engineers, showed a special interest in the Master’s studies that are taught at the school, as well as in the research topics that were discussed during the visit with researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering: Hydraulics, Energy and Environment, all of them belonging to the SERPA research group (dam safety research).

Read the full news here (in spanish).

October 4th, 2018: SERPA Group attended the Seminar RLHE held in Toledo

Miguel Ángel Toledo and Francisco Javier Caballero representing the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), together with Luis Garrote, attended the eleventh edition of the annual Seminar RLHE held in Toledo.

Miguel Ángel Toledo, chair of Group SERPA, presented the latest results of the research projects currently underway. Francisco Javier Caballero presented the work “Advances on the WSB ACUÑA (in Spanish)” performed under the research projects DIABLO and ACUÑA and financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain and by the European Regional Development Fund of EU. These studies focused on comparing the hydraulic behavior of the WSB ACUÑA with the WSB AmorwedgeTM. Also, the structural behavior of the WSB ACUÑA against vandalic acts was tested in the PREHORQUI S.A. facilities where plastic (FIBRAFLEX) and metallic (DRAMIX) fibers were added to concrete in different percentages.

October 2nd, 2018: Members of Group SERPA meet with the Confederación Hidrográfica del Guadalquivir

The Confederación Hidrográfica del Guadalquivir (CHG) has met with Group SERPA to be up to date with the advances made on the hydrological and structural safety of dams. The CHG is an agency under the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and is interested in supporting studies on subjects as the structural and hydrological safety of the dams in the Guadalquivir river basin.

26-29 June, 2018: SERPA Group at Jornadas Españolas de Presas

SERPA attended the congress XI Jornadas Españolas de Grandes Presas, the meeting that congregates the larger number of professionals of the sector in Spain. This year it was held in León between 26 and 29 of June. During this meeting, Miguel Ángel Toledo acted as moderator of section B2 “New concepts and tools for planning, design, construction, and operation of dams” held on June 28. Fotograph courtesy of SPANCOLD.

 6-8 June, 2018:  SERPA Group at Protections 2018

The SERPA Group participated in the “3rd International Conference on Protection against Overtopping” organized by HR Wallingford that took place from 6-8 June in the cultural Grange-over-Sands in the UK’s Lake District. This conference followed the Protections 2016 event, the “2nd International Seminar on Dam Protection against Overtopping” which took place in September 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado (USA). The inaugural event in this conference series was held during November 2014 in Madrid (Spain).

Professors Miguel Ángel Toledo and Rafael Morán presented the new results and advances concerning the patented ACUÑA block and the HIRMA research project (RTC-2016-4967-5 ): “A new evolution on the wedge-shaped block for overtopping protection of embankment dams: the ACUÑA block” and “Influence of the anisotropy of the material on the pore water pressures within the downstream shell of a rockfill dam in overtopping scenario“.

In the figure, from left to right: Prof. Rafael Moran, Prof. Miguel Angel Toledo, and Dra. Antonia Larese (CIMNE).

March 2nd, 2018: Engineers from the Confederación Hidrográfica del Tajo visit the ACUÑA and DIABLO facilities at CEDEX

The past 2nd of March (2018), engineers from the Confederacioón Hidrográfica del Tajo visited the large-scale test facilities used to perform physical tests on Wedge-Shaped Block Spillways, constructed for the research projects ACUÑA (IPT- 2011-0997-020000) y DIABLO (RTC-2014-2081-5). Francisco Javier Caballero from the SERPA Group presented the technical basics of this technology, its background and the goals of the previously mentioned research projects. During the visit were presented the main achievements:

  • New WSB patent, the ACUÑA block (ES2595852);

  • Design software developed by CIMNE for the sizing of this type of dam protection and spillway as well as for the sizing of the blocks;

  • Criteria for the use of non-conventional concrete for the construction of the blocks.

February 20th, 2018: Presentation of the master thesis “Advances in the comprehension of the hydraulic behavior of Wedge-Shaped Block (WSB) spillways

The past 20th of February, the member of the SERPA Group Francisco Javier Caballero presented his master thesis at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

This work was accomplished within the framework of the research projects ACUÑA (IPT- 2011-0997-020000) and DIABLO (RTC-2014-2081-5), financed by the Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Industry of Spain and developed between 2011 and 2018 together with the International Centre for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) and the precast concrete elements company PREHORQUI S.A..

The master thesis presents some conclusions of said research projects, focusing mainly in the results of the hydraulic behavior of WSB spillways obtained with the large-scale facility located at the Centro de Estudios Hidrográficos del CEDEX (Madrid, Spain). One of the main achievements was the WSB ACUÑA patent (ES2595852).

11 – 14th December, 2017: SERPA Group attended the “International Workshop on overflowing erosion of dams and dikes”

The SERPA Group participated in the “International Workshop on overflowing erosion of dams and dikes” held in Aussois (France) the past 11-14th of December of 2017. This international seminar was organized by EURCOLD and CFBR (Comité Français des Barrages et Reservoirs) and supported by EDF (Électricité de France). The main goals of this meeting were:

  • Open a debate between dam owners and research centers in order to detect the current needs for the safety enhancement of dams related to: i) the characterization of the failure of embankment dams and river and coastal levees due to overtopping; ii) downstream river bed erosion induced by overtopping events or plunge jets in concrete dams.

  • The formation of consortia or strategic alliances between research centers and public and private companies in order to promote and finance new studies aiming to obtain answers to the detected needs.

Miguel Ángel Toledo presented the work “Overtopping erosion of clay core zoned embankment dams: experimental and numerical modelling” that outlined the main advances of SERPA Group related to the characterization of the failure of rockfill dams with cohesive internal core.

September 14th, 2017: Presentation of the master’s degree thesis “Thermal simulation of RCC dams: Influence of the hydration model and the environmental actions “

Cristian Ponce Farfán, a member of the SERPA Group, presents this Thursday 17th of September (12.00 am) at the Technical University of Madrid his work developed to achieve the master degree in Civil Engineering Systems.

He presents a framework for the simulation of the thermal process. Defines the boundary conditions of the thermal problem using a careful methodology, which incorporates the main heat exchange mechanisms. This numerical framework allows studying the effect of the choice in the heat generation model (adiabatic or non-adiabatic) on the simulated thermal field. Moreover, was also studied the influence of the weather conditions and effect of the starting date of the construction on the evolution of the hydration reaction.

March 29th, 2017: Technical conference “Overview on the hydraulics of control structures and bottom outlets in small dams” presented to members from IBERDROLA

Rafael Morán, a member of the SERPA Group, gave the last 29th of March the course “Overview on the hydraulics of control structures and bottom outlets in small dams” to members of the company IBERDROLA. The course, held on the San Agustín de Guadalix Campus, was structured as follows:

  1. Free-flow discharge

    • Weir and spillway types

    • The impact of some factors in the discharge coefficient

    • Simplified design

  2. Flow in conduits

    • Bottom outlet

    • Free-flow discharge under rectangular gate conditions

    • Free-flow discharge under circular gate conditions

  3. Practical exercises

March 17th, 2017: SERPA Group attended the I Congreso de Estudiantes de Ingeniería Civil del Ecuador

The Technical University of Madrid, represented by ETSI de Caminos, Canales y PuertosETS de Ingeniería CivilFundación Agustín de Betancourt and by Grupo Serpa, attended the last 17 and 18 of March of 2017 to the I Congreso de Estudiantes de Ingeniería Civil del Ecuador held in Salinas (Ecuador).

Francisco Javier Caballero and Eduardo Salete, members of the SERPA Group, took part in the presentation of the work “Proyectos Multipropósito Coaque y Jama. Diseño de presas sismoresistentes en la Costa Norte de la provincia de Manabí”. Hector Perotas (TECOPY S.A.) started the presentation by giving an overview of the projects. José Almazán (EPA-EP) exposed the geotechnical and seismic aspects of the area where both projects are to be implemented. Later, Francisco Javier Caballero described with a higher degree of detail the different alternatives evaluated for both sites and the final designs, as well as the difficulties that occurred during the project and how they were solved. Eduardo Salete centered his presentation in the basic concepts behind the arch typology of the Coaque Dam and the design of this kind of dams, in this case largely constrained by the earthquake of April 16th of 2016 with the epicenter just 20 km from the site, in Pedernales. Finally, Cesar Costa (TECOPY S.A.) introduced the optimization procedure developed during his master degree to obtain the slopes of an internal core of a zoned dam by means of neural networks, in this case, applied to the internal core of the Briceño Dam.

The Coaque and Jama projects, developed in collaboration with the SERPA Group, were designed for different purposes in order to develop the north cost of the Manabí Province. Both projects are able to supply a population of 350.000 people and irrigate more than 5.000 ha. These purposes are achieved by the construction of two dams, an arch dam constructed in the river Coaque 56.5 m high and a reservoir capacity of 63 hm3 and a rockfill dam with central core 59 m high and 47 hm3 of reservoir capacity.

November 17th, 2016: Students from Master of Dam Management visit SERPA hydraulic models

Students of SPANCOLD’s International Master of Dam Management visited the Hydraulics Laboratory located at Civil Engineering Faculty. SERPA members and the director of the lab, Prof. Jaime García, showed them some hydraulic models and explained the aims and results of each research project.

November 2nd, 2016: SERPA members present a blog about dam protections against overtopping and accidental leakage

This blog is presented as a meeting point for everyone interested in this subject, a wide highway of knowledge and discussion to help to consolidate the Protections Community as a group in the future. Accordingly, publications from authors all over the world are welcomed at This information may include photographs, case studies, news, videos, memorandums, presentations, technical notes, industrial catalogs, research papers or any other item that can be considered representative to increase the knowledge about the blog scope, which can be grouped in the following topics:

  • Failure of embankment and masonry dams due to overtopping or accidental leakage

  • Soft and hard protections for embankment dams

  • Masonry dam protections

  • Additional issues directly related to dam protections

September 6th, 2016: Meeting with the monitoring team at Reclamation

Members of SERPA and CIMNE visited the office at United States Bureau of Reclamation at the Federal Center in Denver (Colorado). This meeting was planned as an exchange of experiences about dam monitoring analysis and the possibilities to increase the dam safety during the exploitation phase by applying machine learning techniques“.