2002 – Spring Creek Dam – Proposed Remedial Measures for the Defective Concrete Core Wall and Undersized Spillway

Paul W. Heinrichs & John Bosler

Spring Creek Dam is a 16m high zoned earthfill dam with a central vertical concrete core wall storing 4700 ML for Orange City Council’s water supply. It was a 14.5m high dam constructed in 1931 and in 1947 was raised by 1.0m. In 1966 after a week of heavy rain following a long dry spell, an 80m section of the downstream face slumped but the dam fortuitously survived. In 1969 the dam was re-constructed but no internal drain/filter was installed.

Following the 1994 dam surveillance report, piezometers were installed in the downstream fill. Drilling for these revealed that a substantial portion of the zone downstream of the core wall was saturated. The piezometers recorded piezometric elevations that closely and rapidly followed the reservoir level. Subsequent site investigations identified pockets of very low strength fill immediately downstream of the core wall. It was concluded that the core wall was seriously compromised and the storage level was subsequently, significantly lowered, as an interim dam safety measure.

Dambreak studies indicated the dam is a high hazard and hydrological studies found that the spillway capacity was inadequate.

This paper details the problems involved, their analyses, and the remedial measures proposed at the concept design stage. These include a chimney filter/drain, a stabilising fill combined with embankment crest raising and the construction of a 3-bay fuse plug auxiliary spillway.

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