2012 – North Pine Dam – January 2011 Flood of Record Lessons Learned

Barton Maher, Michel Raymond, Mike Philips

The Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (trading as Seqwater) owns and operates North Pine Dam, situated on the North Pine River in the Northern Suburbs of Brisbane. North Pine Dam is an Extreme Hazard Dam consisting of a concrete gravity dam with earthfill embankments at both abutments and three earthfill saddle dams. The spillway consists of five radial gates which are manually operated. Flood operations at the dam are controlled in real time by the Seqwater Flood Operations Centre.
In January 2011, North Pine Dam experienced the flood of record at the dam site with a peak inflow of approximately 3,500 m3/s and a corresponding outflow of approximately 2,850 m3/s. This inflow was more than double the previously recorded flood of record. The inflow was generated by high intensity rainfall both at the dam and in the upper catchment resulting in a rapid rise of the storage. The system which caused this rainfall was also contributing to the major flooding occurring in the adjacent Wivenhoe – Somerset catchment, also being managed by the Seqwater Flood Operations Centre. The rapid rise and fall of the storage presented difficulties for both the Seqwater Flood Operations Centre and the operators at the dam site.
Following the flood event, an analysis of the rainfall and the resulting inflows indicated a significant difference between the Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) of the rainfall in the catchment and the estimated AEP of the inflow and peak water levels from previous hydrology studies. A detailed review of the flood event was commissioned by Seqwater and undertaken by URS Australia Pty Ltd.
This paper presents details of the flood event, lessons learned for the operation of the dam, upgrade works undertaken to date, results of the hydrology review and the conclusions of the Acceptable Flood Capacity (AFC) study. A key implication for dam owners was the increase in the estimate of the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) by over 30% due to changes in calibration of the hydrologic model for the catchment.
Keywords: Probable Maximum Flood, Flood Operations, North Pine Dam, Flood Estimation

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