2005 – Ross River Dam – Hydraulic Design Considerations for the Spillway Upgrade

Eric J Lesleighter and Peter F Foster

The Ross River Dam was constructed in 1974 following design by the State Government, including hydraulic model testing, by SMEC. The maximum spillway discharge at that time was 1100 m3/s.Latterly, the dam and spillway have come up for a comprehensive review given that the dam is in an extreme hazard category because of its location only a short distance upstream of the city ofTownsville. The revised hydrology has produced outflow hydrographs peaking at over 4 000 m3/s –more than three and a half times the original – to be passed through the 130 ft (39.62 m) widespillway.

The paper describes the hydraulic modelling planned and carried out to determine changes needed to handle such high discharges. The modelling was to provide for the installation of radial gates and piers, and study of the water level, pressure and dissipation conditions in the dissipator for several key discharges through the range to PMF. Pressure measurements included transients, consideration of the potential for uplift of the basin floor slabs, the integrity of the walls to handle the differential loads, and, as a major consideration, the energy conditions in the flow exiting the dissipator and the integrity of the rock downstream to avoid erosion.Each of these aspects will be addressed in the paperboth from the modelling and interpretation standpoint and from the civil structural analysis standpoint, together with a description of the strengthening works required to achieve a satisfactory outcome.


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