2010 – Googong Dam Spillway Upgrade – Construction Challenges and Alliance Framework

Ben Greentree, David Bamforth, Matthew O’Rourke and James Willey

A series of relatively small floods occurring between end of construction in 1978 and late 1980s caused extensive and dramatic rock erosion to the very steep unlined section of the Googong Dam spillway. Following a review of hydraulic performance at larger floods, the spillway’s future erosion potential was evaluated and it became clear that extensive remedial work was required. A detailed design was developed comprising the retro-fitting of a full concrete-lined chute, the raising and extension of the spillway chute walls, strengthening of the upstream training walls and excavation of a large plunge pool. The Googong Dam has an ANCOLD hazard rating of ‘extreme’ because of its location upstream of Queanbeyan and Canberra.
In early 2008, the Bulk Water Alliance (BWA), comprising ACTEW Corporation Ltd, (in cooperation with ActewAGL) (the Owner), GHD Pty Ltd (the Designer) and Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd in joint venture with John Holland Pty Ltd (the Constructors) was formed to deliver a package of water security projects for the ACT, one of which is the Googong Dam Spillway Upgrade.
After preparation of a construction methodology and target outturn cost (TOC), the project was approved by the Actew Board and construction commenced in February 2009. Completion is due in late 2010. A number of significant geotechnical, structural and logistical challenges were encountered during construction, resulting in major changes to the construction methodology necessitating design changes. The changes were incorporated within the original TOC, without instigating scope change contractual claims and while still maintaining spillway functionality in line with Owner operational requirements.
This paper presents delivery phase challenges that necessitated construction methodology and design changes to achieve best for project outcomes; how these challenges were overcome through genuine innovation reliant on a collaborative effort by all the Alliance partners; and how the contractual framework of the Alliance was essential for the change management process to be successful.

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