Sunday, July 21, 2024

Dartmouth Dam to spill for the first time in 26 years: MDBA

Recent stories

Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Media Release, 21 September 2022

After hovering around 99% capacity for 4 weeks, the largest water storage in the Murray–Darling Basin is expected to be flowing over the spillway tomorrow thanks to inflows from last weekend’s rain.

MDBA Senior Director of River Management, Joe Davis said water would begin flowing over the Dartmouth Dam spillway at low rates and contribute minor flows to the Mitta Mitta River downstream, with water also still being released through the valves at the base of the dam.

“There has been plenty of local banter about the possibility of the spill, and I know people have been taking bets on when it might happen,” Joe Davis said.

“To begin with, water is expected to trickle over the spillway before the flows build up.

“Given it’s been such a long time since the last spill, we expect locals and tourists will be keen to visit Dartmouth, particularly over the school holidays. Please be courteous of others and take great care on the road up to the site and in the limited parking area.”

Since Dartmouth Dam was completed in 1979 it has physically spilled in 4 years, each in the 1990s, the last time being 26 years ago in 1996.

“Dartmouth Dam has been considered effectively full since early August when we started pre-releasing water from the dam to manage airspace,” Joe Davis said.

“The flow of water over the spillway at this stage is not expected to impact on the height of the Mitta Mitta River downstream, with flows expected to remain within the river channel at Tallandoon.”

During the spill in 1996, water flowed over the dam wall from 30 September to 24 November, with a peak flow of 19,600 megalitres per day, on 4 October 1996.

River operators work in close collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology to ensure dam management is guided by up-to-date rainfall and inflow forecasts.

Jointly managed by the MDBA and Goulburn-Murray Water, Dartmouth Dam is the most upstream storage in the River Murray System and collects almost 10% of the system’s inflow.

The Mitta Mitta River flows from Dartmouth Dam into the Hume storage, which is currently at almost 97% capacity.

Like Hume Dam, the primary purpose of Dartmouth Dam is to conserve water during wetter periods as insurance against future drier times. Its management is governed by the rules of Basin governments under the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement.

Communities who live, work or holiday near rivers or on a floodplain are reminded to be prepared for flooding.

For more information about how dams are managed to reduce the impact of flooding visit:

Fast facts on Dartmouth Dam:

  • Dartmouth Dam has the largest capacity of any dam in the Murray–Darling Basin (3,856GL).
  • At 180 metres, the wall at Dartmouth Dam is the highest dam wall in Australia.
  • Almost 10% of the inflow to the River Murray System comes from the Dartmouth Dam catchment.
  • This is the fifth time the dam has spilled since it was completed in 1979.
  • More information about the history and construction of Dartmouth Dam is available at:


Sign up for updates from Australian Rural & Regional News

Manage your subscription

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.