2022 – Do You Trust Your Data? A framework to assess risk data, gaps, and robustness

Lyndon Johnson – Aurecon Australasia – Lead Dams Engineer, Neil Smith – Hydro Tasmania – Dam Safety Manager

Risk based (also termed risk informed) decision making is rapidly becoming industry standard practice for the management of dams, complementing traditional standards-based approaches. More so than ever, we rely on data to estimate the risk associated with dams, be that societal (F-N), economic or environmental, often at great expense to enable decision making related to capital mitigation. While we estimate as best we can at a snapshot in time, the dams industry operate in a fluid environment with considerable unknowns. We build on and of natural materials, making assumption or extrapolation a given. Our methods are continually evolving as new research is completed or data gathered. Our consequences are shifting with changes in planning or downstream development. It is therefore reasonable to ask the question “Are we keeping up with these changes between major studies and have these changes been reflected in our asset management and priorities?” Informed decision making is a keystone in the defensible management of dams. Owners are not limited to single options or simple binary decisions. They may opt to upgrade an asset, improve detection/monitoring and warnings to reduce consequences, or refine studies or estimates to better quantify impacts where dams present an intolerable risk position. To enable this, it is critical that our methods, assumptions, and key factors underpinning risk data is clearly recorded. We must understand our data confidence and the full suite of options available to make sustainable decisions related to our assets. This paper presents a framework for storing and assessing the state of data health associated with a dam which underpins management strategies. The paper discusses how we can capture key data associated with asset risk, how we can maintain that data and present key data summaries at a portfolio level for better decision making.

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