2015 – Towards Risk-Based Surveillance Programmes – Maximising the Value of Your Monitoring Spend

Mark Arnold, Chris Topham, Phil Cummins

A central tenet of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management (2003) is that the higher the consequence of failure of a dam, the more stringent the surveillance scope, frequency, and safety criteria that should be applied to that dam. This concept has generally served the industry well to date in assisting regulators and dam owners to focus on the dams that could have the highest impacts if they failed. ANCOLD 2003 does also suggest that risk may be taken into consideration, however it is the experience of the authors that for dam surveillance and monitoring programmes, the majority of owners and consultants are reluctant to stray too far from the tables provided in the Guideline. However, two owners have recently embarked on a formal process to apply a risk based approach to the specification of surveillance and monitoring for their dams. This paper outlines how sub-optimal outcomes that can arise when the guideline tables are applied exclusively, presents the process undertaken by two owners of large portfolios of high consequence dams, and demonstrates the benefits achieved when a risk based approach is used. The paper concludes that any update or rewrite of the 2003 Dam Safety Management Guidelines should promote a risk based, rather than a consequence based approach to surveillance and monitoring.


Keywords: Risk, risk-based surveillance programme, instrumentation, monitoring.

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