New Zealand is considering creating safety regulations for large dams in the country, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announcing that it has opened consultation on proposals to ensure dam safety regulation is robust and in line with internationally recognized best practice.

“The regulations will introduce a nationally consistent approach to dam safety that will protect people, property and the environment from the potential impact of a failure of a large dam,” said Katrina Quickenden, National Manager of Building Policy at MBIE.

The Building Act regulates the construction of a dam structure and a building consent is required for all large dams but there is currently no national level dam safety scheme in force in New Zealand to ensure that dams are well maintained, regularly monitored and that the potential risks of dam failure are reduced.

“Currently, any inspection and maintenance carried out by dam owners after construction is done voluntarily, unless there are resource consent conditions, which means practice is inconsistent,” explained Quickenden. “The regulatory proposals in the discussion paper are based on internationally reviewed guidelines written by the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD) and will be administered by regional authorities.

Owners of large dams and anyone with an interest in dam safety are encouraged to have a say on the proposed dam safety regulations. For more information on the proposed regulations and how a submission can be made, click here.

The consultation will close on 6 August 2019.