2008 – Flooding of the Glenmaggie Dam and Cowwarr Weir storages-June 2007

Mark Hore, Joseph Matthews

Abstract: Substantial flooding occurred in the Gippsland region in late June 2007, following the severe bushfires experienced during the previous summer. Major damage was sustained to the regions infrastructure, which included the gated storages at Glenmaggie Dam and Cowwarr Weir, located in the neighbouring Macalister and Thomson river catchments respectively. The flood event at Glenmaggie Dam produced a record peak inflow of well over 250,000 ML/day, which was more than twice the previous record.

The magnitude and intensity of the flood event created a number of issues for the staff at Southern Rural Water (SRW), who are engaged in the safe operation of the facilities. The event tested the organisations emergency management systems and the ability of the organisation to effectively manage events at multiple sites. Some of challenges faced included: a rapid rise in storage volumes; the loss of upstream warning gauges; the accumulation of large volumes of debris; the development of suitable release strategies and the communication and engagement with the local community.

The event caused a significant amount of damage to key infrastructure at both sites, with the Cowwarr Weir storage being the worst affected. A number of high priority projects have been completed since the event, with spending to date totalling $3 million. The unusual nature of the flood event provided the opportunity to review previous flood assessments and to identify deficiencies with elements of the existing infrastructure. Of particular interest was the subsequent hydrology review which provided a comparison with previous modelling assessments. The review included a flood frequency assessment which showed that the magnitude of the Glenmaggie flood was in the order of a 1:200 AEP(Annual Exceedance Probability) event, which was disproportionate to the rainfall event frequency assessed as having a 1:50 AEP, when averaged across the catchment. The aim of the paper is provide a case study for other dam engineers who may be preparing for future flood events in similarly affected catchments.

Keywords: flood, gated storage, dam performance, remedial works.

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