2019 – Auckland Council’s Dam Safety Management System

J.O. Grimston, M.S. Razak, D.M. Knappstein, P.D. McCallum

Auckland Council (Council) is developing a dam safety management system with an overall objective to protect people, property, infrastructure, and the environment, from the harmful effects of a dam failure.

Council has responsibilities as an owner and operator of approximately 600 stormwater ponds and wetlands, many associated with dams. Council also has wider responsibilities for safety in the Auckland region, which may be affected by dams owned by others and even by inadvertent dams, such as road or rail embankments across streams that have the unintended but potential function of diverting, storing or holding back water. Three categories of dams have been distinguished, associated with Council’s different types of responsibility. Each category of dam is managed differently in the dam safety management system.

Given the large number of structures, which are not always obviously dams, a key activity has been the initial identification of dams across the Auckland region. Prioritisation has also been a necessary tool to direct resources and programme. Once dams have been identified, the consequences and risk of dam failure have been assessed, and commensurate measures have been established to manage those risks. There is limited guidance for some of these activities, and new procedures and tools have been developed.

This paper describes the process and the challenges encountered, for consideration by other councils when developing their own systems, and for consideration by the wider dams’ community.

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