2023 – Optimisation of Business Cases for Dam Improvement Projects

Peter MacTaggart, Daniel Culpitt, Russell Paton

A significant program of dam improvement projects are planned across Queensland over the next 12 years to achieve compliance with the State Government’s Guidelines on Safety Assessments for Referable Dams by the mandated 2035 deadline. Where the project value exceeds $100M, the project will be subject to a business case under the Business Case Development Framework (BCDF).

Dam improvement projects are typically net cost projects driven by regulatory requirements. Such projects are not well suited to standard approaches to business case development that depend heavily on economic and financial returns to justify investment. Furthermore, the drive to meet regulatory deadlines often leads to proponents rushing in to achieve compliance and overlooking opportunities to consider the integration of additional works that deliver benefits in other areas such water supply or flood mitigation. Failure to consider all available options introduces risks such as missed capital cost efficiencies and delayed business case approvals where State agencies withhold their endorsement due to concerns that all options have not been thoroughly considered.

This paper discusses these shortcomings and explores proposed improvements in the application of the BCDF to dam improvement projects that will facilitate the development of business cases that provide a wider range of options to decision makers thereby providing better value to the community, and streamline the business case approval process for proponents.

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