2004 – Dam Safety Legislation Changes in New Zealand

Peter Mulvihill

Legislation specifically addressing dam safety was passed into law by the New Zealand Government on 12 August 2004 as part of the Building Act 2004.

Government, local authorities, and the dam industry have debated the need for specific dam safety legislation in New Zealand since the late 1980’s. The previous legislative framework addressing dam safety in New Zealand included civil law, the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Building Act 1991. The provisions regarding dam safety within this legislation were implied rather than specific.

In 2001, as part of the Building Act Review, various government departments reviewed current dam safety regimes in New Zealand. One of the objectives was to address issues related to lack of clarity with regard to regulatory responsibility and inconsistency in the application of the current law. The New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD) along with owners and Local Government representatives has participated in this process. The following paper is an update on the progress of dam safety legislation, outlining the evolution and structure of the dam safety provisions within the new Act. Some brief comparisons are also made to current Australian legislation.

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