2021 – A Review of Victoria’s Dam Safety Regulatory Framework

Reena Ram, Siraj Perera, Mark Pearse, John Pisaniello, Shane McGrath, Joanne Tingey-Holyoak, Peter Hill

Dam construction in Victoria commenced in the 1850s and there are over 8,000 dams currently regulated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Dam ownership spans across state owned water utilities and local government authorities to privately owned hydro-electricity generators and farmers.

Victoria was one of the first states in Australia to adopt risk-informed principles in the management and regulation of dam safety. A recent review of the State’s dam safety regulatory framework included a comparative analysis of Victoria’s dam safety arrangements with other regulatory regimes within Australia and overseas, including a total of 16 jurisdictions. A similar review was conducted in 2010.

The objective of the 2019 review was to examine the effectiveness of dam safety regulation in managing dam safety risks in Victoria and to assess the extent that dam safety regulation was consistent with good practice so that improvement opportunities could be identified.

This paper discusses the processes adopted in comparing various regulatory models, identification of good international practices and opportunities to achieve improved public safety outcomes for dam owners and regulators. In particular, it outlines how the State’s journey in progressively reducing dam safety risks over the years can be further strengthened.


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