2001 – Flood Passing Capacity Upgrade Considerations for Wivenhoe Dam

Allan Crichton, Jon Williams, Anthony Ford

Wivenhoe Dam was constructed in the early 1980’s and is the largest source of water to the southeast Queensland region. The dam also provides significant flood mitigation benefits to the large communities in the Brisbane valley including the cities of Ipswich and Brisbane. Changes in the methods of determining the probable maximum flood, which is the design flood for the dam, have meant that the dam was not capable of passing the significantly larger design flood event. The feasibility study undertaken to assess the most appropriate method of upgrading the flood passing capacity identified more than 240 options. These options were short-listed and the capital cost and consequences costs determined for each of the short listed options.

This paper describes the process used to identify the options to upgrade the flood passing capacity and the method used to assess the consequences costs, which are primarily the costs of flood damage resulting from each of the options. The consequences costs for each option are the costs associated with changing the flow conditions in the river downstream of the dam. For example the option to upgrade the dam to pass the design flood is a benefit to the community however if this benefit is achieved by installing large gates or a fuse plug that operates frequently the scheme may increase the costs to the community.

The preferred option initiates at the lowest probability of occurrence of all those analysed — average return period of 10,000 years. There will be opportunities during the Environmental Impact Assessment process to test acceptability of this initiation level — a more frequent occurrence would be a lower capital cost solution. The EIA process may require a solution with a higher initiating level. Informal talks with the regulator have indicated a preference for the less frequent initiation level.

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