November 22, 2021

SMEC delivering concept design for important upgrade of South Australia’s largest dam

SMEC is currently engaged by SA Water to deliver the concept design for important upgrades to Mount Bold Dam, enabling the structure to meet the current ANCOLD guidelines.

SMEC is currently engaged by SA Water to deliver the concept design for important upgrades to Mount Bold Dam, enabling the structure to meet the current ANCOLD guidelines. Mount Bold Dam is critical infrastructure, it is the largest storage in the region, has a total capacity of around 46 billion litres and provides 40% of metropolitan Adelaide’s water supply.

The Mount Bold Dam Upgrade is just one of the crucial projects underway which demonstrates the ongoing infrastructure improvements utilising ANCOLD guidelines.

Francisco Lopez, the SMEC project Design Manager stated “We are proud to be chosen as the project’s concept designer. This is a crucial role helping to safeguard one of the Adelaide community’s most important infrastructure assets. A lot has changed since the dam was first constructed in 1938 and upgraded in the 1960s, which means there is a need to reassess and upgrade Mount Bold Dam to meet current ANCOLD guidelines and industry standards. For instance, the capacity to withstand the probable maximum flood and seismic loadings are the two key areas which will be addressed during the concept design phase.”

The new upgrade will bring Mount Bold Dam in line with current guidelines through:

  • strengthening the central arch section of the dam wall by buttressing with mass concrete,
  • strengthening the existing gravity dam abutment sections with post tensioned anchors through to bedrock,
  • removing the existing spillway gates and need for manual operation,
  • providing a free-flow staged spillway to safely pass the full range of floods, including flood attenuation for frequent floods, and
  • incorporating an embankment saddle dam to prevent flow over a low-lying section on the reservoir rim.

Ultimately the upgrade will strengthen the dam to safely pass flood and seismic events, while also providing limited flood protection to the downstream community.

Constructed between 1932 and 1938, Mount Bold Dam was designed and built as a water supply dam with the purpose of maximising storage levels. The dam is a critical and cost-effective water supply asset while also providing some flood mitigation benefits to downstream communities through controlled releases of water. Water is also pumped into Mt Bold Dam from the River Murray.

The concept design plans to upgrade the dam to meet current ANCOLD guidelines and contemporary safety standards. SMEC’s dam specialists are helping to upgrade a resilient storage dam for South Australia.

SA Water anticipates that detailed design of the upgrade will be started and completed in 2022. Construction is planned to commence in 2023 and take approximately three and a half years to four years to construct, delivering a more secure and safe asset for the future.

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