2018 – Of Droughts & Flooding Rains: The Influence of Major Incidents on Dam Ownership in Victoria

Richard Mannix, Michael Cawood, Siraj Perera

Lessons learned from recent major incidents and related enquiries in Victoria in concert with the adoption
of an all-emergencies all-communities philosophy have informed both the scope and reach of the current
emergency management and dam safety regulatory environment. Victorian dam owners now have a statutory
obligation to implement an all-emergencies all-communities approach to risk assessment at their assets and,
as part of that, to adopt this approach as part of their “business as usual” activities. A major outcome of
this requirement is that for major dams, risk management is now being driven from Board and senior
management level: the implementation of controls and actions is formalised. As a consequence, there is a
better understanding across the organisation of new and emerging risks that require new technologies,
thinking and expertise and an improved appreciation of asset interdependencies and the risk posed to reliant
stakeholders. With other reforms including oversight and audit arrangements in place, the move from “doing
enough” to striving for “good’ industry practice, aided by an improved regulatory regime and statutory
processes, is well established. A brief consideration of the lessons learned from the February 2017 Oroville
dam incident in this context concludes the paper.

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