2001 – Restoration of Storage Capacity at Lyell Dam

Bill Hakin, Phillip Solomon, Geoff Hughes, Peter Siers

Lyell Dam is located on the Coxs River near Lithgow NSW Australia. It was constructed in 1982 to supply cooling water to Delta Electricity’s Mt. Piper and Wallerawang power stations.

In 1994 the storage capacity of the dam was increased by 7,500 MI by raising the embankment height and installing two 3.5m high inflatable rubber dams on an enlarged and slightly raised spillway sill.

Two significant failures of the rubber dams in 1997 and 1999, led the dam owner, Delta Electricity, to seek a more reliable way of maintaining the increased FSL whilst still providing spillway capacity for the design flood.
Following a detailed review of options, Delta Electricity chose to reinstate the storage capacity with the Hydroplus Fusegate System. The Hydroplus System consists of a series of fusible units that progressively tip off the spillway as flood magnitude increases, thereby forming a controlled breach in the spillway and providing for passage of the design flood. At Lyell Dam it has been designed such that no units tip until the 20 000 AEP flood. The System is designed to act as a normal free overflow spillway up until extreme events when it is required to commence operation. Key factors in the selection process were safety, reliability and operation/maintenance.

This is the first installation of the Hydroplus Fusegate System in Australia or New Zealand. There are currently 35 installations throughout the world. The System has wide application with dam owners either seeking to store additional water and/or to increase the capacity of their existing spillways for safety reasons in an economical and efficient manner.

This paper examines the decision and selection process adopted by Delta Electricity. It also presents a case study for the design and construction stages of this unique solution for Lyell Dam.

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