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Cardinia Dam
Cardinia Reservoir Control Tower, Melbourne, jjron, 7.01.2011.jpg
The control tower and dam walls near the embankment
Cardinia Reservoir is located in Victoria
Cardinia Reservoir
Location of the Cardinia Reservoir in Victoria
Country Australia
Location Greater Melbourne, Victoria
Coordinates 37°58′17″S 145°25′8″E / 37.97139°S 145.41889°E / -37.97139; 145.41889
Purpose Water supply
Status Operational
Construction began May 1970 (1970-05)
Opening date 1973 (1973)
Construction cost A$11.4 million
Owner(s) Melbourne Water
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Embankment dam
Impounds Cardinia Creek
Height (foundation) 86 m (282 ft)
Length 1,542 m (5,059 ft)
Dam volume 5,150×10^3 m3 (182×10^6 cu ft)
Spillways 1
Spillway type Uncontrolled
Spillway capacity 12 m3/s (420 cu ft/s)
Creates Cardinia Reservoir
Total capacity 286,910 ML (6.311×1010 imp gal; 7.579×1010 US gal)
Catchment area 2,800 ha (6,900 acres)
Surface area 1,295 ha (3,200 acres)
Normal elevation 494 m (1,621 ft) AHD
Power station
Name Cardinia Dam Power Station
Coordinates 37°57′6″S 145°23′54″E / 37.95167°S 145.39833°E / -37.95167; 145.39833
Operator(s) Pacific Energy
Annual generation 3.5 MW (4,700 hp)
Cardinia Reservoir at Melbourne Water

Cardinia Reservoir is an Australian man-made water supply dammed reservoir. The 287,000-megalitre (6.3×1010 imp gal; 7.6×1010 US gal) water store is located in Emerald-Clematis-Dewhurst in south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. Construction started in May 1970 and was completed in 1973 at a cost of more than A$11.4 million. The dam that creates the impoundment is called the Cardinia Dam.


As Melbourne's water supplies struggled through the 1960s the need for additional water storage became evident. Cardinia Creek ran from the Dandenong Ranges to Western Port, passing through some small but well defined hills south of the outer suburb of Emerald. This site was chosen as being suitable for a new reservoir. In 1966, plans for the construction of the Cardinia and Thomson Reservoirs were accepted by the Government of Victoria. Construction of the Tarago Reservoir commenced in 1966 and was completed in 1969. This water storage was built by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria (SR&WSC) to improve the capacity of the water supply system to meet the ever increasing demand for water in the district. By 1967, Melbourne struggled through a severe drought and water restrictions were imposed in the summer of 1967–68. As a result, plans for construction of Cardinia and Thomson Reservoirs were advanced.

With the construction of one large rolled earthfill and rockfill embankment to serve as the Cardinia Dam wall, and some other saddle dams in nearby hills, the large water storage facility of the Cardinia Reservoir was created. The dam was built by Fluor Construction, and engineered by Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, under contract to the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). The dam wall height is 86 metres (282 ft) and the main embankment is 1,542 metres (5,059 ft) long. The two saddle dams are 10 metres (33 ft) high and 323 metres (1,060 ft) long; and 16 metres (52 ft) high and 1,219 metres (3,999 ft) long respectively. At 100% capacity the dam wall was designed to hold back 286,910 megalitres (6.311×1010 imp gal; 7.579×1010 US gal) of water. The surface area of Cardinia Reservoir is 1,295 hectares (3,200 acres) and the catchment area is 2,800 hectares (6,900 acres). The ungated uncontrolled spillway is capable of discharging 12 cubic metres per second (420 cu ft/s).

Construction of the dam was completed in 1973, following which it took another four years to fill, including substantial water transfers from Silvan Reservoir. As part of the Victorian Government's policy that fluoride should be added to all public water supplies, construction began on local fluoridation plants. In 1981, following continued demand for potable water on the Mornington Peninsula finally exceeded the district's ability to meet its own water supply needs. Despite upgrading of existing facilities, water from the MMBW reservoir at Cardinia was first used to supplement local water supplies. Export of "Australia Pure", a bottled water from Cardinia Reservoir, commenced in 1993 to several European countries and the United States of America.

The surrounds of the reservoir were allocated $1 million for landscaping work to create a recreational area including picnic areas, playgrounds, carparks, and walking tracks.


Cardinia receives water via a pipeline from Silvan Reservoir. A 3.5-megawatt (4,700 hp) hydroelectric power station at the outlet of the pipeline generates electricity as water is transferred to Cardinia. Water from Cardinia supplies Melbourne's southern and south-eastern suburbs, and the Mornington Peninsula.

The Cardinia Reservoir is managed by Melbourne Water.


Cardinia Reservoir Pano, Melbourne, jjron, 7.01.2011
Looking from east to south along the main dam wall of Cardinia Reservoir
Cardinia Panorama
Panoramic view looking east
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