2006 – Investigations and Design of Remedial Works at Millbrook Dam in South Australia

N. Vitharana, G. McNally, C. Johnson, A. Thomas, K. Dart and P. Russell

Millbrook Reservoir is an offline storage with an earthen embankment dam containing a puddle clay core and a moderately sized upstream catchment. The dam is 31m high and has a capacity of 16.5 GL when the storage water level is at the Full SupplyLevel (FSL). The reservoir is 25km NE of Adelaide on Chain of Ponds Creek, a tributary of the River Torrens. The dam was constructed during the years 1914-1918. Earthworks were carried out only during summer as the five winters during the construction period were very wet.

Dam safety reviews and geotechnical investigations, undertaken between 2001 and 2004 by SKM, showed that these winter recesses would have created weak layers, increasing the potential for piping due to the lack of a filter. This was highlighted by the large deformations which occurred at the end of construction in 1918. The spillway was assessed as able to pass a flood event with AEP of 1:1,300,000. Given the location of the dam, ANCOLD(2000b) Guidelines suggest the dam should be able to safely pass the PMF flood event. Accordingly, the dam required upgrading to modern guidelines.

The 2005 detailed design of the upgrade included the construction of a 70m wide unlined spillway, construction of filters on the downstream face of the dam with a stabilisation (weighting) fill, installation of instrumentation and seismic protection of the outlet tower. The construction of these works is currently underway.

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