2009 – Design and Construction of Tallowa Dam Environmental Flow Release and Fish Passage Works

Peter Cordi, Paul Fuller

Tallowa Dam was completed in 1977 at the junction of the Shoalhaven and Kangaroo Rivers in the southern highlands of NSW to provide a pumping pool for water supply transfers to Sydney. These transfers were made only during drought periods, at which time limited and fixed environmental flow releases from a low level outlet were made to the downstream Shoalhaven River. After extensive consultation with the local community the Government decided in 2006 to commence transfers earlier in the drought cycle, and release variable amounts of surface water to improve river health during transfer periods. In addition, Tallowa Dam was identified as having a significant impact on fish passage, as many species migrate to the estuary during their life cycle, and approximately 75% of the viable fish habitat was upstream of the dam. This project involved the design and construction of works to be retrofitted to the dam to address both issues. A surface water release slide gate in the spillway, a low friction coating on the spillway, and a downstream weir were constructed to release environmental flows and allow safe downstream fish passage. A new fish attraction flow outlet was drilled through the dam wall, and a fish attraction chamber and a travelling bucket fish lift was installed for upstream fish passage.

Keywords: environmental flows, fish passage, Shoalhaven River, construction.

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