Cotter Dam

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Cotter Dam
Cotter Dam from below.JPG
Cotter Dam, 2013
Cotter Dam is located in Australian Capital Territory
Cotter Dam
Location of the Cotter Dam in the ACT
LocationAustralian Capital Territory, Australia
Coordinates35°19′10″S 148°56′19″E / 35.31955°S 148.93853°E / -35.31955; 148.93853Coordinates: 35°19′10″S 148°56′19″E / 35.31955°S 148.93853°E / -35.31955; 148.93853
PurposePotable water supply
Opening date1912 (1912); 2013 (2013)
Owner(s)ACTEW Corporation
Dam and spillways
Type of damGravity dam
ImpoundsCotter River
Height87 m (285 ft)
Length330 m (1,080 ft)
Dam volume380×10^3 m3 (13×10^6 cu ft)
Spillway typeUncontrolled
Spillway capacity5,670 m3/s (200,000 cu ft/s)
CreatesCotter Reservoir
Total capacity78 GL (1.7×1010 imp gal; 2.1×1010 US gal)
Catchment area482 ha (1,190 acres)
Surface area285 ha (700 acres)
Normal elevation550.8 m (1,807 ft)
Cotter Dam at ACTEW Water

The Cotter Dam is a concrete gravity and rockfill embankment dam across the Cotter River, located in the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. The impounded reservoir is called the Cotter Reservoir which is a supply source of potable water for the city of Canberra and its environs.

Original dam completed in 1912[edit]

Waterfall surrounded by stone walls in brown wooded hills; many of the standing trees are barren, gray, and dead.
The Cotter Dam in December 2005, surrounding country still showing the effects of the 2003 bushfires.

The original concrete gravity Cotter Dam was built in 1912 when the city of Canberra was established. The height of the dam wall was raised to a height of 31 metres (102 ft) in 1951 in order to increase capacity of the reservoir. The 26-thousand-cubic-metre (920×10^3 cu ft) dam wall was 118 metres (387 ft) long and created a reservoir with a surface area of 500 thousand cubic metres (18×10^6 cu ft). The uncontrolled spillway was capable of discharging 850 cubic metres per second (30,000 cu ft/s). At that time, the top water level of the dam was 501 metres (1,644 ft) above sea level and the reservoir had a capacity of 3,856 megalitres (848,000,000 imp gal; 1.019×109 US gal).[1] A subsequent review in October 2006, using more accurate mapping methods, resulted in capacity being re-estimated downwards from the previous estimate of 4,700 megalitres (1.0×109 imp gal; 1.2×109 US gal). Additional galleries and drains were constructed between 1984 and 1986.[1] In order to supply the city with potable water, water from the reservoir was pumped to Mount Stromlo, and from there the water flowed by gravity to fill the city's reservoirs.

From the 1960s onwards, better quality water could be supplied without pumping using the newly completed Bendora and Corin dams, and Cotter Dam was only used when water was in short supply. However, in December 2004, ACTEW Corporation brought the dam back on line in response to the ongoing drought.[2]

Enlarged dam completed in 2013[edit]

Completed in 2013, the enlarged Cotter Dam comprises a new 87-metre (285 ft) high concrete dam wall built downstream from the old 26-metre (85 ft) high dam wall, along with two auxiliary embankment dam walls along low-lying adjoining valleys. Constructed on rock foundations by Abigroup–John Holland joint venture, with engineering design by GHD, the main dam wall is 330 metres (1,080 ft) long, with the two rockfill embankments 340 metres (1,120 ft) and 300 metres (980 ft) long and 15 metres (49 ft) and 18 metres (59 ft) high respectively, both with internal earthen cores.[1] The enlarged dam walls increased the storage capacity of the Cotter Reservoir from the previous 3.9 gigalitres (860,000,000 imp gal; 1.0×109 US gal) to 78 gigalitres (1.7×1010 imp gal; 2.1×1010 US gal);[3] while the catchment area remains 482 hectares (1,190 acres).[1]

The old dam wall remains, inundated by the water held behind the new dam wall and acting as a sediment trap for the new dam's intake tower. The old dam may only be visible in exceptional circumstances of drought. Completion was originally scheduled for the end of June 2011,[4] however construction was delayed until August 2013[5] due to heavy rainfalls in the summer of 2010/2011,[6] the discovery of an unexpectedly large rock seam at the site of the foundations in 2011,[7] and severe flooding in March 2012.[8] The uncontrolled spillway is capable of discharging 5,670 cubic metres per second (200,000 cu ft/s) from the 285-hectare (700-acre) Cotter Reservoir,[1] with a high water level approximately 550.8 metres (1,807 ft) above sea level.[2]

Aerial view (June 2011)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Register of Large Dams in Australia" (Excel (requires download)). Dams information. Australian National Committee on Large Dams. 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Cotter Dam". ACTEW Water. ACTEW Corporation. 2011. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Enlarged Cotter Dam". ActewAGL. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Enlargement of the Cotter Reservoir - Development application". ACTEW Corporation. July 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  5. ^ "$405m dam operational, but more work to be done". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Rain delays Enlarged Cotter Dam by three months" (Press release). ACTEW Corporation. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Enlarged Cotter Dam construction and schedule update". ACTEW Corporation. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  8. ^ Kretowicz, Ewa; Downie, Graham (2 March 2012). "Cotter spills as deluge hits region". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 13 February 2013.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cotter Dam at Wikimedia Commons