2000 – Environmental Challenges in Constructing the Warragamba Dam Auxiliary Spillway

Pieter van Breda, Peter Walton, Kate Lenertz and Tim Sheridan

The Warragamba Dam Auxiliary Spillway Project, designed to manage floodwaters up to a Probable Maximum Flood event, was approved by the NSW Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning on February 12, 1998. An Environmental Impact Statement prepared for this project predicted that noise, dust (suspended and deposited), blasting, vibration, water quality and revegetation would be the significant environmental issues requiring management throughout the construction phase.

The closest residents are approximately 200m from the construction activity. The works must not interfere with the operation of the Dam, which stores 80% of Sydney’s drinking water and the integrity of the existing infrastructure must be maintained at all times. The approved proposal was to emplace the 2.2Mm3 of spoil excavated to create the spillway in an area 25 ha by 20m high on top of a ridge on the left bank adjoining the Blue Mountains National Park. This created visual impact and rehabilitation challenges.

Although the contract for this project was primarily performance based, strict environmental clauses were incorporated to manage these priority issues. Noise and dust modelling were required from each pre-qualified Tenderer, to demonstrate capability of compliance with NSW Environment Protection Authority requirements. This formed part of the tender assessment. Criteria were also developed for revegetation, specifying numbers of endemic trees, shrubs and grasses per 400m2 of spoil emplacement in order to create a floral community similar to the existing adjacent National Park.

The implementation of these requirements and the development of a site Environmental Management Plan by the Sydney Catchment Authority, Australian Water Technologies and Abigroup Contractors, whilst maintaining productivity, has proven to be a working example of the benefits of Partnering.

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