Dam Safety Management
Dam safety is about managing dams at a level of safety that ensures that the risk to life, property, essential services and the environment are tolerable. Generally, dam safety risk is of low likelihood of occurrence but may have very high consequences. While Victoria’s dam safety record is very good, the need to maintain effective oversight is important, particularly in light of the regular occurrence of catastrophic dam failures internationally. Highly prescriptive regulatory regimes have resulted in the aftermath of such events.
Victoria faces many high risks including bushfires, floods, severe storms, climate change and drought. Compared to these, the risk from dam failure across the general population is relatively low. As this risk is associated with individual structures, dam owners and managers are better able to implement engineering controls and safety management systems to reduce the likelihood of the risk eventuating.
Australia has a good dam safety record and the likelihood of a major dam failure is very low. Nevertheless, the history of serious dam failures internationally is testimony to the importance of maintaining comprehensive dam safety management programs.
Dam Safety Regulatory ArrangementsUnder the Water Act 1989 dam owners and managers are legally responsible for dam safety and accountable for the damage their dams may cause if they fail, while the Minister for Water has powers under the Act to regulate the construction, operation and safety of dams in Victoria. These powers apply to dams owned and managed by public entities such as water corporations, local government and Parks Victoria, and private dams owned by farmers and hydro-power producers.
To assist in the administration of these powers, the Minister is supported by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) through the Water Group.
DEPI has regulatory responsibilities for dam safety within Victoria. The Strategic Framework for Dam Safety Regulation sets out Victoria's regulatory policies and practices.Strategic Framework for Dam Safety Regulation (PDF~1.9MB) Temporarily unavailable
Strategic Framework for Dam Safety Regulation (DOC~2.2MB) Temporarily unavailable
Dam Safety Advisory Committee
The Dam Safety Advisory Committee was set up in 2011 to provide specialist advice to DSE on regulation of dam safety in Victoria.
The Dam Safety Advisory Committee is made up on the following members based on their expertise in dam safety, risk management, economics/business management and water industry experience:
- David Dole, Committee Chairperson and Former General Manager River Murray Water;
- Phillip Cummins, former Chair of Australian National Committee on Large Dams and Deputy Commissioner of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry;
- Jim Keary, General Manager, Hunter Water Australia; and
- Clinton Rodda, Managing Director, Southern Rural Water.