2002 – Strategic Risk Assessment for Thirteen Victorian Dams

Richard R. Davidson, Shane McGrath, Adrian Bowden, Andrew Reynolds

Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) manages thirteen major dams for the State of Victoria. As part of its Dam Improvement Program (DIP), five priority dams were identified for detailed safety and performance evaluation. Over the last three years, the design reviews have been completed and a series of dam safety issues have been identified which pose societal and financial risk. Substantial financial resources will be required to be applied over a considerable period to bring these dams into compliance with established international and Australian standards. Which of these dam safety issues should be addressed first? In what sequence and with what urgency should the actions be implemented? Can cost-effective interim targets be set? How can the remaining eight
dams, which could also pose societal and financial risk, be prioritised for future detailed investigation? To answer these questions a quantitative risk assessment approach was used. The approach utilised expert engineering and consequence panels and included input to and review of the process and outcomes by a stakeholder reference panel reporting directly to the Board of G-MW. The implementation of a strategic risk management process has now begun to progressively and systematically reduce the dam safety risk across the entire dams portfolio. This process recognises that available funding for risk reduction measures is very limited, so the highest risks are reduced in an incremental fashion to achieve interim risk targets and eventually meet contemporary dam safety standards.

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