2010 – Regulating Dam Safety: How do we compare?

Kristen Sih, Peter Hill, Susan Ryan, Siraj Perera

Although ANCOLD provides guidance on good dam safety practices, in Australia it is the State and Territory Governments’ role to protect the public from dam safety incidents and in many cases these jurisdictions have legally binding regulations in place that dam owners must adhere to. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the dam safety regulations currently in place for Australian states, as well as selected international jurisdictions. The limit of applicability of the regulations, number of dams regulated, content of the regulations and powers and responsibilities of the regulator are all compared. It was found that there is a large range within each of these categories with regulatory approaches varying from light-handed and objective based, to highly prescriptive. The extent to which risk management principles are used in the regulations for each jurisdiction has also been investigated. It was found that in jurisdictions where higher hazard category dams account for a higher proportion of dams being regulated, risk analysis is included in the regulations. Finally, the ANCOLD societal risk criteria and ALARP considerations have been compared and contrasted with those from international jurisdictions and other hazardous industries.

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