2011 – Cultural Change – A Mechanical Perspective on Dam Safety Management

George Bolliger and Clare Bales

Traditionally, the dams engineering profession has been a career path for engineers of civil/structural or geotechnical persuasion. As dams are constructed there is understandably a predominate focus on the civil requirements. Beyond the first few years of the dam’s life, effective operation and maintenance becomes increasingly important. A number of mechanical/electrical components and plant items form part of the critical infrastructure of the dam. A good maintenance routine is an essential requirement of the dam safety management program.

State Water Corporation, as the owner of 20 large dams and over 280 weir and regulator structures, runs a dam safety management program that is in line with the Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines and NSW Dams Safety Committee requirements. The maintenance procedures and outcomes are audited through an internal maintenance audit program.

The maintenance audits form an integral part of the total asset management plan as well as the dam safety program. They are used to identify areas of strength as well as common errors or defects. Using State Water’s internal maintenance audits as case studies, the paper elaborates the role of maintenance audit program in enabling a cultural change to further include mechanical/electrical aspects and thereby enhance the longevity and safety of the assets.

Cultural Change – A Mechanical Perspective on Dam Safety Management


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