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Department of Energy and Water Supply

Dam safety regulation

The failure of a dam can have major consequences—from injury and loss of life to economic, property and environmental damage. Queensland has a good safety record, but the safe management of our dams remains vitally important.

It is important to recognise that while no dam is 100% safe, the risks of failure are usually very low and can be managed.

Safety responsibilities

In Queensland, the responsibility for the safety of a dam rests with the dam owner.

Under the provisions of the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 (the Act), the chief executive of DEWS is responsible for the regulation of water dams that would, in the event of failure, put 2 or more people at risk. Such dams are called 'referable' dams in the Act.

By definition, referable dams do not include:

  • dams containing hazardous waste
  • weirs that do not have variable flow control structures on the crest of the weir
  • large fabricated water tanks.

Changes to the Act

Changes to a number of provisions in the Act commenced on 1 July 2017. The changes simplify the regulation of small dams and clarify the role of dam owners and managers, enabling them to better manage safety.

In this guide

This guide outlines the dam safety roles, responsibilities, guidelines, and requirements for dam owners, operators and industry bodies, as set out in the Act.

Last updated:
17 November 2017
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