2001 – A New Regulatory Environment for Dams in Queensland

P.H. Allen

The regulatory environment for dams in Queensland will change when the new provisions of the Water Act 2000 are proclaimed in late 2001 or early 2002. The definition of a ‘referable dam’ has shifted from a simple height and storage criteria to one that requires a population at risk (PAR) before dams are considered referable. Additionally hazardous waste dams such as tailings dams will no longer be considered as referable dams and under the Act regulatory control will be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Referable water dams will be assigned a Failure Impact Category of 2 if they have a PAR greater than 100 and a Category of I if they have a PAR greater than or equal to 2 and less than 100. This has required the development of guidelines for the assessment of ‘population at risk’. These guidelines have been written to suit a wide variety of dam impact situations and a range of dam owner resources. The guidelines require certification of the failure impact assessment by a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Queensland.

The Queensland Dam Safety Management Guidelines have also been re-written to make them more amenable for reference in dam safety conditions.

New dams will require development permits to be issued under the Integrated Planning Act and will have development permit conditions applied in accordance with their Failure Impact Category. There is a range of transitional provisions for existing dams.

This paper covers all of the above issues as well as providing an indication as to how these statutory guidelines relate to the various ANCOLD guidelines.

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