1999 – Lighting Protection for Dam Instrumentation – A Case Study of the New Victoria Dam

Anthony Moulds and Anthony M Watson

The selection of lightning protection equipment will always remain within the cost versus benefit, or risk management area. As more and more monitoring equipment becomes electronic and microprocessor based, we need to have a better understanding of the ways to protect it, and maintain the data flow.

Recent experience has shown that utilising the Australian Standard (NZS/AS 1768-1991) Lightning Protection, in conjunction with a six-point plan, will go a long way to providing total integrated protection for both structures and contents. However, no matter how much protection is applied, damage due to lightning may still occur. For dam surveillance instrumentation the aim ultimately is to protect the transducer ‘in the ground’ or ‘in the dam’, because generally these instruments are inaccessible and non-replaceable without prohibitive drilling and retrofitting costs.

The six-point plan was applied initially to designing lightning protection for a large, well- instrumented RCC dam, completed in 1991. The protection proved to be not as good as was hoped. The paper describes how the lightning protection at the dam was subsequently developed. This experience, which has pointed the way to achieving a good level of protection at a reasonable cost, has been applied to a number of other, instrumented dams.

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