2021 – Ageing Assets versus Modern Monitoring – An Owner’s Conundrum

Ryan Cantrill, Petros Armenis & Angus Cannon

Large Australian dams span a range of ages and were designed and constructed to the prevailing
standards and practices of the day. Since that time, there has been a veritable explosion in monitoring and surveillance technologies available to dam owners to assist with risk management of their portfolio. Coupled with this has been the formalization and ongoing development of regulatory frameworks across the industry.

This paper endeavours to share Sunwater’s recent experience on this topic. Specifically, the following question is considered – how best to apply modern monitoring and surveillance technologies to manage dam safety risks associated with decades old structures, all while still meeting regulatory requirements? In answering this question, the authors necessarily had to consider several inputs including – physical condition of the existing assets; analysis of existing controls and mitigation measures; risk assessment and risk profile of the assets; and operational constraints. As always, outputs invariably required the prioritization of recommendations.

While dam owners must strive to comply with a standard and accepted way of managing their portfolio, it is vital they recognize and address the unique risks that each structure presents. It therefore follows that owners must be prepared to allow the time and provide the necessary resources when formulating a monitoring and surveillance program commensurate with the dam safety risk that their respective portfolio presents

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