2013 – Falls Dam hydropower retrofit – integrating generation with existing irrigation assets

Peter Mulvihill and Ian Walsh

The Falls Dam was constructed in the 1930’s to provide storage for several irrigation schemes in the Manuherikia Valley situated in New Zealand’s South Island region of Central Otago.
The opportunity to retrofit a small hydropower plant to the concrete faced rock fill dam was taken in 2003, utilising existing tunnels complemented by an innovative syphonic penstock system. The key design and construction features of this integrated scheme are described, along with experience from the first 10 years of the generation performance.
Looking ahead, there may be further integration challenges as current investigation of irrigation storage requirements leads to major redevelopment at this dam site and substantial changes to generation parameters.

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