2005 – Revised Extreme Floods in Tropical Regions

R.A. Ayre and T. L. McGrath

SunWater as an owner of 25 major dams in Queensland has completed a programme to update the design flood hydrology of all of its referable structures in accordance with the latest methodology for estimating extreme design floods. This programme ensures the adequacy of existing spillways is included in an overall dam safety portfolio risk assessment in a consistent fashion.

This paper describes the methodology adopted in the re-assessment of the design flood hydrology of the storages. Principally this has meant the use of a design hydrograph approach utilising runoff-routing methods as described in Australian Rainfall and Runoff (1999). Design rainfall inputs have been based on generalised techniques derived by the Bureau of Meteorology such as the Revised Generalised Tropical Storm Method and the Generalised Short Duration Method for the estimation of Probable Maximum Precipitation. These estimates, coupled with the use of a regional design rainfall estimation technique known as CRC-Forge that is used for determining large to rare design rainfall estimates, have been used to derive a complete estimate of the inflow/outflow flood frequency curve for each dam.

The paper also provides an insight into the significant factors and relationships that are involved in the changes resulting from this process. Overall, there has been an increase in design rainfall depth estimates for the extreme events, and a general reduction to neutral change in the large to rare rainfall range. These changes plus the influence of temporal effects and the assignment of Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) has led to substantial changes from previous estimates of design floods. The implication of these changes is profound for
an organisation such as SunWater.


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