2003 – Spillway Gate Control Upgrades: Clark Dam, Meadowbank and Liapootah

Garth Barnbaum and Robert Bell

Hydro Tasmania has recently upgraded the control systems for the spillway gates of three of its dams, Clark Dam, Meadowbank Dam and Liapootah Dam. The upgrades followed internal reliability assessments that highlighted high reliance on operator attendance, single points of failure and operational difficulties on each of the three gate systems.

The three gates are of contrasting types. Clark Dam Spillway Gates are submerged orifice type radial gates, operated by wire rope hoists. Meadowbank Crest Gates are flap type gates, held by 10 hydraulic cylinders per gate, a design that has had a difficult operating history. Liapootah is a floating drum gate. The upgrades for each gate therefore required different solutions, albeit within a common basis of design framework. The solutions arrived at are innovative, and meet or exceed worlds best practice.

All three gates are now fully automatic, with PLC control. The use of PLC’s significantly enhances the reliability of the gates. Extensive use is also made of the PLC in monitoring key systems. For example, an impossibly rapid lake level rise detected by one transducer, but not its duplicate, will be alarmed but ignored to avoid unnecessary discharge. All systems incorporate appropriate redundancy. The PLC systems also provide some automatic functional testing functionality and enhance remote alarms and local fault finding.

Mechanical systems were modified to facilitate automation and increase reliability. Stand by power sources used include auto-start diesel genset, DC batteries and a micro hydro generator.

The design and implementation of each of the upgrades was carried out by the Electrical and Mechanical Group of Hydro Tasmania’s Consulting Division, in conjunction with Generation Division’s Project Management Group.

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