Proposal has implications for Otago dam owners
Wednesday, 26 July 2006
A proposed new regional policy on dam safety will have serious implications for dam owners in Otago, including private owners of small dams.
At today's extraordinary meeting, the Otago Regional Council approved a draft policy on dangerous dams, as required under the Building Act. The proposal will be open for public submissions over the month of August. Hearings are likely to be held in mid September. The regional policy must be adopted by 30 September 2006.
Council Chairman Stephen Cairns said that the proposed regional policy, together with new Government regulations aimed at ensuring dams are responsibly managed, will have important implications for many dams in Otago.
"A dam's safety is dependent on its design, construction and how it is managed, operated and maintained. Even small dams can be dangerous if they fail," Cr Cairns said. "The policy will set out the Council's expectations for owners of dangerous dams. Some may require upgrading or even demolition in order to comply with the Government's new safety regulations."
Cr Cairns noted that the Building Act defines "dam" in a broad sense and encouraged owners of all structures that retain or convey fluid, including water races, canals and ponds, to refer to the Act and check whether it applies to their situation. Council today also resolved to develop a draft policy on such structures that are dangerous but do not meet the definition of dam under the Building Act. Such a policy would have important implications for owners of small dams.
For more information on dam safety, see www.orc.govt.nz/environmental management /dam safety
Dr Gavin Palmer
Director Environmental Engineering and Natural Hazards
03 474 0827 or 0274 933 960