2001 – The Opuha Dam Project

G. A. Pickens, J. O. Grimston

The Opuha Dam Project is a multipurpose water resources development, for irrigation and other uses. The 50 m high irrigation dam incorporates a 7.3 MW hydro installation, enhances summer low flows downstream, increases potable water supply security, is a significant recreational facility and provides flood attenuation. Opuha Dam was the first large dam permitted under NZ’ s Resource Management Act, for which sustainability is the cornerstone. It was also built under a design-build contract arrangement. Although breached by a flood during construction, the dam was successfully completed and performance has met or exceeded expectations. Experiences of potential value to future developments are outlined including the positive features of design- build. Technical features which contributed to the cost-effectiveness and performance of the project, are described, including downstream reregulation to enable “on-off’ peak hydro operation, Obermeyer type spillway gates to maximise flow capture for hydro and a stepped service spillway.

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