THE 'Mighty Clutha' forms the heart of one of the world’s most unique waterways. It traverses the dramatic semi-desert landscape of Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, but the most spectacular river gorges, and much more, have been destroyed ... by dams. This is the unofficial story of the Clutha Mata-Au River and its stolen treasures. It is a story steeped in bitterness, shame, destruction, and sadness.

Large Dams on Active Faults ~ Expert Opinion

'As a general guideline, if significant movement along a fault crossing the dam site is accepted as a reasonable possibility during the lifetime of the dam, the best advice is to select an alternative site, less exposed to geodynamic hazard. Such a standpoint is supported by the fact that no dam, foreseen to successfully survive the shearing action of a fault slip in its foundation, has ever been exposed to actual test under such event.

In general, concrete dams should not be accepted for sites affected by active tectonic features.'

Quote from:
'Dam design - the effects of active faults,' by -
Martin Wieland, Chairman, ICOLD Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design, Poyry Energy Ltd., Zurich, Switzerland.
A. Bozovic, Former Chairman, ICOLD Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design, Consultant, Belgrade, Serbia.
R.P. Brenner, Past Chairman, ICOLD Committee on Dam Foundations, Consultant, Weinfelden, Switzerland.
Dated Tuesday, August 19, 2008.
International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).

Allen, C.R. & Cluff, L.S., 2000. Active faults in dam foundations: an update. Proc. 12th World Conf. on Earthquake Engineering, Auckland, New Zealand, Paper 2490, 8p.
Amberg W. & Lombardi G., 1982. Abnormal behaviour of Zeuzier arch dam in Switzerland, Static analysis, Wasser Energie Luft, Special Issue to ICOLD, 74(3):102-109.
Bray, J.D., Seed, R.B., Cluff, L.S. & Seed, H.B., 1994. Earthquake fault rupture propagation through soils. J. Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, 120(3):543-561.
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ICOLD, 1998. Neotectonics and Dams, Bulletin 112, Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design, ICOLD, Paris.
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About This Site

Cromwell before the Clyde dam was set to become a tourism icon. Blessed with a dramatic location, numerous historic buildings and a spectacular bridge overlooking the famous Cromwell Gap, its potential was obvious, until ... "think big."

The Roxburgh Gorge, too, with its many amazing rapids ~ the largest whitewater in New Zealand, had vast tourism potential, offering Alexandra and Roxburgh a booming industry focused on high volume whitewater kayaking, rafting and dory adventures unlike anything else in New Zealand.

The Clutha Mata-Au, before the Roxburgh and Clyde dams, possessed many natural treasures in the form of extraordinary river features and rapids.

This website tells the story of those stolen treasures, and records the bitter fight of ordinary New Zealanders pitted against arrogant government technocrats and politicians who considered the Clutha River ripe for exploitation at any cost.

Finally, the rising waters behind the Clyde dam submerged the historic main street of old Cromwell, the Cromwell Gorge including the famous Cromwell Junction, the Lower Kawarau Gorge including Sargood's Rapid (rated the best whitewater rapid in the world), the Cromwell Gap Rapid, the Lowburn area, and numerous orchards and homes. A total of 2300 hectares of productive land disappeared.

This website is a tribute to the Mighty Clutha, and to the many dedicated people who have fought, over decades, to protect its natural treasures.

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