Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Trip to Warragamba Dam and the Floods ....

Last week up until Sunday we have had some of the heaviest non-stop rain in ages; so much so that the dam that supplies 80% of drinking water for Sydney overflowed.

When you consider that we had severe water restrictions and the damn level at 33% just a couple of years ago  and the last time it was full to overflowing was in 1998 you will realise just how much rain we had.

View from the Platform I couldn't get to
Anyway, I decided I would like to go up and take some photos of the spill - something that doesn't happen very often so was watching the Water Board site all day Friday as that was when it was expected to happen.

Looking down the river
Unfortunately it didn't happen until 7pm so I considered going last Sat morning until I found out there were almost 200 people waiting patiently on Friday night and more expected on Saturday. Considering the viewing platform would probably only hold about 20 people at a time and the car park even less, I thought I would leave it till  today (Tuesday).

When my kids were little I took them to the Dam; back then you could walk all over it; take an elevator down inside the dam and walk alongside the spillway.  Sadly now you get to look at it through glass in the Visitors Centre above the dam or you can look across a few hundred metres to the spillway at an observation platform a kilometre or so away.

So I drove the 40 minutes there - what a total waste of time!!!

Thar she goes .....!!!
They had blocked off the access road to the viewing area and you had to walk there.  There were cars everywhere; probably would have at least a 1 1/2 km walk there plus it was sprinkling.  So I thought, okay I will go to the damn itself and to the visitors centre.  I would still be able to get some photos there.

Guess what??  

Yep; they had closed off all the parking areas close to the visitor's centre and you had a 1 km walk.  Ggggggrrrrr.  

I can understand them closing the access to the viewing platform because the car park is tiny but why on earth would they shut all the parking around the visitor's centre when so many people are travelling out there?

Somewhere way down is the river
I was not happy.  Anyway, I pinched some of the photographs from the Water Board site to show you.

Decided I would drive to the Nepean River lookout spot near Mulgoa.  Bummer!!!

The final 2kms were dirt track with enormous potholes.  Then when I finally got there  ......
can you see the river in the photo?   Neither could I ......rotfl.

You had to climb down through the bush about 2 or 3 kms.  
The start of the track

As I was 
a) alone; 
b) overweight;  
c) and am definitely not athletic
I decided to pass.  Figured even if I attempted to go part way I would probably fall over and being alone it would not be a good idea ..... lol.

A few of the smaller potholes and washaways
So back into the car once more, after a quick coffee (was smart and had taken a Thermos of coffee for the trip) headed into Penrith.

Looking across the river all that's left of the tree from the previous photo
Drove past on of the bridges near Penrith but it was all blocked off and then decided I would go to Yarramundi.

I had taken some great pictures there that I am going to paint so I thought it would be great to see how it looked now.  The Yarramundi bridge had been under water but was now open.

Previously taken looking from the bridge into the distance little shallow area
Looking toward the little shallow area

The water was rushing past about 1/2 metre from the bridge.

So sad to see, all that water.  It rushed through Yarramundi then flooded through Windsor and Richmond and Pitt Town and further down.  People at least had some warning but so much damage.

Just in case you are interested here are some facts about Warragamba Dam.
  • Height: 142 metres
  • Length: 351 metres
  • Thickness at base: 104 metres
  • Width of central spillway: 94.5 metres
  • Volume of concrete: 3 million tonnes
  • Width of auxiliary spillway (at mouth): 190 metres
  • Length of auxiliary spillway: 700 metres
  • Capacity: 2,031,000 megalitres
  • Area: 75 square kilometres
  • Length of lake: 52 kilometres
  • Length of foreshores: 354 kilometres
  • Maximum depth: 105 metres
  • Area: 9,051 square kilometres
  • Average annual rainfall: 840 millimetres
  • Diameter: 2,100/3,000mmm
  • Length: 27 km each
  • Capacity: 2,600 megalitres per day

The central drum gate and four radial gates open automatically when the dam reaches and passes full storage level by about 80 millimetres. They are rarely opened manually.
The dam forms Lake Burragorang and is filled by run-off from rain falling in a catchment area of more than 9,051 square kilometres. The Warragamba Catchment extends from south of Goulburn, north to Lithgow, east to Wollondilly and Mittagong, and west to part of the Crookwell local government area. 

The main rivers that flow into the Warragamba Dam are the Wollondilly, Coxs, Kowmung, Wingecarribee and Nattai.

Heavy rain falling in the catchment area can overfill the dam. The dam gates begin to open gradually when the water reaches 80 millimetres above the full storage level. The central drum gate gradually opens automatically at this point, and if water continues rising, the four radial gates start opening at 23 centimetres above full storage level. The progressive gates help control the flow of water

 Waiting for the Dam to fill and then the gate to open above and below.

 The Dam in 2009/2010

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