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Maree Dalakis, Dr Saman de Silva, Siraj Perera and Dr Gamini Adikari
This paper describes the results of a statistical and qualitative analysis on historical dam safety incidents in Victoria, the first study of its kind conducted in the State. The study investigates trends arising from qualitative dam safety incident data collected by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning since the year 1996. The reported incidents are categorised based on their severity and statistical trends are identified in relation to the types of incidents common to regulated and unregulated dams, as well as common responses to incidents, including their post-incident operation. The geographical distribution of incidents across the State is also analysed to determine the effects of seismicity on dam safety incident rates. Furthermore, the unique Victorian conditions of sustained drought and subsequent flooding and their impact on incident rates are investigated through the combined analysis of geographical incident distribution and streamflow data. The incident data is further assessed according to the frequency of visual inspection and reporting of the structures in order to gauge the relative influence of these practices, and dam regulation in general, on mitigating incident risk in dams. An understanding of dam safety incident trends and the impact of inspection and reporting practices is increasingly important given the increasing expectation for dam owners to properly operate and maintain their assets with minimal resources and finances.Learn more
Keywords: dam, safety, incident, historical, failure.
David Stewart, Shane McGrath & Siraj Perera
Dam safety in Victoria is overseen by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on behalf of the relevant Minister and under the Water Act. For each of the 19 state-owned Water Corporations, Government has issued a Statement of Obligations which describes all responsibilities of the Corporation, including specific reference to dam safety management and ANCOLD Guidelines.Learn more
These Corporations report annually to the Department on their compliance with all their obligations, including dam safety management. In late 2014, 13 Water Corporations along with the Department commissioned a comparative benchmarking study of dam safety management practices across the state. This work was facilitated by the VicWater Dams Industry Working Group. The study used a rapid assessment method against 14 separate criteria for dam safety management, based on the Statements of Obligations, guidance notes developed by the Department, ANCOLD Guidelines, the ICOLD Draft Bulletin on Dam Safety Management, good governance principles and examples of best practice from other jurisdictions.
The study involved assessment of background data, site inspections and discussions with various individuals of each owner, including a range of field staff, dam safety staff, Executive Managers, Managing Directors and Board Directors. The benchmarking study covered 142 dams of Significant, High and Extreme Consequence Category throughout Victoria.
The results of the benchmarking study have been extremely useful for individual dam owners and for the Department to understand areas where good practice is in place and also where there is potential for improvement of individual programs. The study also provides a measure of assurance of the current status of dam safety management practices and areas where regulatory practices could be better focused. It also reinforced the importance of strong industry networks such as ANCOLD and VicWater for knowledge transfer, capacity development and sustainability of dam safety management practices.
This paper presents the methodology used for the benchmarking study and its broader findings. It also highlights good practice considerations for dam owners, regulators and other dam safety practitioners.
Keywords: Dam Safety Management, Governance, Benchmarking
Makeena Kiugu, Siraj Perera
Dam owners are influenced by drivers such as ensuring economic efficiency, achieving industry good practice, and meeting regulatory or due diligence obligations when making decisions on how to manage their dams. While these drivers can be inter-related, the decisions finally made by dam owners are reflected in planned and completed dam safety activities.Learn more
In Victoria, dam owners update the regulator on the status of their dam safety management programs every year. Victorian dam safety regulation is underpinned by risk management principles. Benchmarking of dam safety management practices is also promoted within the industry. The information provided to the regulator includes risk levels of dams, scheduled upgrades and associated cost estimates, interim risk reduction measures, and details of surveillance, emergency management and operation and maintenance programs. A considerable amount of information has been collected over the past few years allowing trends in dam safety management activities to be examined at a State-wide level.
This paper will consider how dam safety management decisions, and the drivers behind those decisions, are reflected in the dam safety practices of Victorian dam owners. Trends in dam safety activities will be observed and linkages made to prevailing industry-wide challenges.
Dam owners are increasingly being required to address a wider range of issues in an environment of limited resources. Ensuring due diligence and improving emergency preparedness are some current challenges facing dam owners. This paper also examines how these emerging drivers may influence dam safety activities into the future.
Keywords: Dam safety management
Richard Mannix, Michael Cawood, Siraj Perera
Lessons learned from recent major incidents and related enquiries in Victoria in concert with the adoptionLearn more
of an all-emergencies all-communities philosophy have informed both the scope and reach of the current
emergency management and dam safety regulatory environment. Victorian dam owners now have a statutory
obligation to implement an all-emergencies all-communities approach to risk assessment at their assets and,
as part of that, to adopt this approach as part of their “business as usual” activities. A major outcome of
this requirement is that for major dams, risk management is now being driven from Board and senior
management level: the implementation of controls and actions is formalised. As a consequence, there is a
better understanding across the organisation of new and emerging risks that require new technologies,
thinking and expertise and an improved appreciation of asset interdependencies and the risk posed to reliant
stakeholders. With other reforms including oversight and audit arrangements in place, the move from “doing
enough” to striving for “good’ industry practice, aided by an improved regulatory regime and statutory
processes, is well established. A brief consideration of the lessons learned from the February 2017 Oroville
dam incident in this context concludes the paper.
Kristen Sih, Peter Hill, Susan Ryan, Siraj Perera
Although ANCOLD provides guidance on good dam safety practices, in Australia it is the State and Territory Governments’ role to protect the public from dam safety incidents and in many cases these jurisdictions have legally binding regulations in place that dam owners must adhere to. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the dam safety regulations currently in place for Australian states, as well as selected international jurisdictions. The limit of applicability of the regulations, number of dams regulated, content of the regulations and powers and responsibilities of the regulator are all compared. It was found that there is a large range within each of these categories with regulatory approaches varying from light-handed and objective based, to highly prescriptive. The extent to which risk management principles are used in the regulations for each jurisdiction has also been investigated. It was found that in jurisdictions where higher hazard category dams account for a higher proportion of dams being regulated, risk analysis is included in the regulations. Finally, the ANCOLD societal risk criteria and ALARP considerations have been compared and contrasted with those from international jurisdictions and other hazardous industries.Learn more
Roger Vreugdenhil, Peter Hill, Siraj Perera, Susan Ryan
All Australian water authorities have in place dam safety programs that seek to ensure the ongoing safety and serviceability of their dams along with the benefits they secure for the wider community. Many have progressed multiple dam safety upgrades over the past decade and embraced risk assessment as a helpful tool in prioritising upgrade investment.
The ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment (2003) have been applied across the country and, coupled with State regulation, have supported dam owner efforts in reducing risks below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability”. However, it is generally acknowledged that in their current form, the ANCOLD guidelines provide limited guidance to dam owners for determining appropriate levels of risk reduction and timing of dam safety improvements. This has contributed to a range of guideline interpretations and inconsistency in subsequent dam safety investment decisions across Australia. Having achieved priority risk reduction, a number of owners are beginning to assess their dams against the ALARP principle, bringing dam safety investment within an owner’s portfolio into more direct competition with other important and urgent organisational investment decisions.
This paper outlines the outcomes of a recent study commissioned by the Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment into risk reduction principles and the application of ALARP by a number of Australian and international dam owners and regulators, hazardous industry owners and regulators, and the interaction of ALARP with whole-of-organisation investment. The paper highlights the study process and significant points of interest regarding risk reduction principles and current application of ALARP and some options for refinement and clarity.Learn more
Susan Ryanand Siraj Perera
This paper describes the benefits of the statewide risk reporting framework used in dam safety regulation in Victoria and its ongoing development. Key to this approach is a web-hosted reporting system and benchmarking process, established by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in collaboration with the Victorian water industry. This is the first time that such an approach has been used in Australia for publicly owned dams.
Sector-wide reporting on dam safety is central to the objective-based approach used by the Department in the governance and regulation of the water industry. Water corporations submit detailed annual reports on dam safety status. This incorporates ‘self assessment’ against performance criteria based on ANCOLD risk and dam safety management guidelines. These are collated to produce a statewide report of industry-wide results on the progress of dam safety management programs. This benchmarking process is providing a driver for on-going improvement and proving to be an effective tool for regulation of publicly owned dams.
The reporting framework has significantly advanced the understanding of dam safety risk across the water sector, with outputs easily understood by both dam safety practitioners and decision makers. It has improved monitoring and trend analysis of risk management practices, and is informing policy development on demonstration of the ALARP principle and decision-making about appropriate long-term dam safety levels.