Auckland Council is inviting residents to have their say on the council’s proposed Dam Safety Policy, which sets out the council’s approach and priorities to protect people, property and the environment from the potential impacts of a dam failure.
Council says the draft policy has been developed to meet the requirements of central government’s Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022, which will come into effect in May 2024 and will establish consistent minimum safety standards for dams across New Zealand.
Under the new regulations, owners of dams over a certain height or storage capacity will need to confirm the potential risk their dam would pose in the event of failure, put in place dam safety plans and undertake regular dam inspections.
General Manager of Building Consents, Ian McCormick says the new regulations will allow councils to better manage and minimise risks posed to the community by dangerous dams.
“Flooding events earlier this year have highlighted the need for improved dam safety in Tāmaki Makaurau,” he said.
“By requiring dam owners to regularly monitor the safety of their dams and report risks to councils, we will have a much better chance of preventing a dam failure before it occurs.”
The Government’s regulations will apply to all ‘classifiable’ dams, which are dams that: have a height of four or more metres and store 20,000 or more cubic metres of water or other fluid have a height of one or more metres and store 40,000 or more cubic metres of water or other fluid.
From May 13 2024, owners of all classifiable dams will have three months to register their dam details with us.
Council says its draft Dam Safety Policy has been developed alongside other regional councils around New Zealand and sets out what Auckland Council will do if notified of a dangerous, earthquake-prone or flood-prone dam in the Tāmaki Makaurau region.
“It covers our regulatory and legislative responsibilities, our priorities when performing these functions, and how the policy will apply to heritage dams.”
Chair of the Rural Advisory Panel and ward councillor for Franklin, Andy Baker says its important those impacted understand the new regulations and have an opportunity to have their say.
“The regulations set by Government will come into effect next year and cannot be altered, but there is still an opportunity to give feedback on how the council classifies dangerous dams and prioritises those with the most risk,” he said.
“There are an estimated 1,100 dams in the Auckland region, and I would encourage all dam-owners, as well as those affected such as landowners downstream of dams, to read the policy, attend a webinar or event and provide feedback.