Mount Bold Dam Safety Upgrade
Mount Bold Dam is the largest storage reservoir in the region, with a total capacity of around 46 billion litres.

It also stores water pumped from the River Murray and provides approximately 40% of metropolitan Adelaide’s water supply. Constructed between 1932 and 1938, Mount Bold Dam was designed and built as a water supply dam. The dam is a critical and cost-effective water supply asset which also provides some flood mitigation benefits to downstream communities through controlled releases of water.


SMEC takes the lead in safety implementation

In mid 2022, SMEC delivered a Concept Design for the upgrade of Mount Bold Dam which would enable the structure to meet current ANCOLD (Australian National Committee on Large Dams) guidelines. Ultimately, the upgrade will strengthen the dam to safely pass flood and seismic events, while also providing some flood protection to the downstream community.


SMEC’s Concept Design would 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,
  • investigating the possibility of 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.
We are proud to have been chosen as the project’s concept designer for the upgrade of the dam. 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 addressed during the concept design phase.
———— Francisco Lopez, SMEC project Design Manager

Currently, SA Water with the support of SMEC is re-evaluating other possible remedial alternatives that were previously discounted, in the light of the new findings and investigations resulting from the Concept Design. It is expected that the said re-evaluation will result in an improved Concept Design that SMEC will commence later in 2024. Detailed Design is planned to commence in 2025.

billion litres
stored in the dam
of Adelaide’s water supply provided from the dam


Talk to one of our specialists about our role on the Mount Bold Dam Safety Upgrade project.