2005 – Blowering Dam – Spillway Hydraulic Modelling

David Ho, Karen Riddette, Michael Hogg, Jayanta Sinha and John Roberts

Blowering Dam was constructed in 1968 by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, on behalf of the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. It is a large earth and rockfill embankment dam, approximately 112m high and 808m long, with a concrete chute spillway at the right abutment. The reservoir holds about 1,628GL of water that is mainly for irrigation and supplying an 80MW hydro-electric power station. The dam is owned and operated by State Water Corporation, NSW.

Revisions to the design flood estimate have highlighted the dam requiring an upgrade to cope with increased discharge rates. The NSW Department of Commerce has carried out feasibility studies of different upgrade options. The need to evaluate the hydraulic performance of the existing un-gated spillway was identified. Flow overtopping the chute walls can potentially erode the backfill behind the walls, and, the rockfill on the downstream toe of the embankment. Consequently, this may lead to significant damage of the spillway and may risk the safety of the dam.

Hydraulic analysis of the spillway using a 3-D computational fluid dynamics model was performed for
various flood levels to determine the discharge coefficients and the discharge rating curve. It was also required to identify whether the chute walls need raising to contain the increased discharges. These results were compared with those calculated by other “standard” methods. Such verification provided a level of confidence in the analysis results which were then used in the studies to assess available upgrade options.

In order to have further confidence in the analysis, the computed results were validated against physical test data and some limited information from an actual discharge. Further verification against established theory was conducted by modelling a supercritical flow through a contraction in an open-channel in order to see if the computation could predict the shock wave effect that was observed in physical models as well as full scale channels. A reasonably good correlation was obtained from all validating tests.

This paper presents some background of the proposed dam upgrade, potential upgrade options considered and details of the hydraulic modelling of the spillway. Some interesting flow behaviour caused by the shock wave will be highlighted.

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