2014 – Developments in Emergency Action Planning for Queensland Referable Dams

Peter Allen and  Kevin Bartlett

One of the recommendations of the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry was for the introduction of a legislative requirement for all referable dams in Queensland to have Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) formally approved by the Dam Safety Regulator. Prior to this EAPs were required under the dam safety conditions applied to each referable dam and they were not formally approved. This recommendation has now been implemented as a requirement of the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008. This paper summarizes the emergency action planning system now applicable to Queensland’s referable dams and details the actions involved in implementing this system. It involves significant consultation between dam owners and local disaster managers and gives local disaster managers an opportunity to formally comment on EAPs prior to them being submitted for approval. Development of associated regulatory guidelines to cover all aspects of EAPs was done in order to make EAPs more consistent and more readily understood by users and other stakeholders in emergency situations. Once the guidelines had been developed, the Regulator undertook a state-wide series of seminars to raise the level of awareness of local disaster management groups and dam owners of the new requirements. The legislation also requires the publication of the approved EAPs on the department’s website to raise the public’s awareness of the risks involved and improve their responses in advance of emergency events. This represents a challenge from a public relations perspective because people will become more aware of the risks to which they are exposed. The paper summarises the Regulator’s experience in reviewing and considering the EAPs submitted for approval and it indicates some of the benefits and challenges of the ongoing program.

 

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