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Dam building consents

A dam's safety is dependent on its design and construction, how it is operated, and how its maintained.

Dam owners are responsible for ensuring their dams are constructed, maintained, and operated safely and that they comply fully with the building code (Building Regulations 1992). 

Dams that have a height of 4 or more metres and hold 20,000 or more cubic metres volume of water or other fluid, require building consent. Dams that do not meet these height and storage amounts do not require building consent, but must still comply with the Building Code.

Otago Regional Council is responsible for building control for dams and their associated structures in the West Coast and Southland regions, along with certain dam safety management functions.

If you own a dam, pond, or canal in Otago, Southland or the West Coast, or are planning to construct, modify, or remove these structures or a structure associated with a dam in one of these regions, you must follow the correct processes.

View a process map of the dam building consent process

We can instruct the owner of a dam in Otago to reduce or remove danger associated with their dam, or the council can do the work itself and recover costs from the dam owner.

Otago Regional Council policy on dangerous dams

The Building Act 2004 introduced legislation for managing the safety of existing and new dams in New Zealand. Under this Act, regional councils must have a policy on how they will deal with dangerous dams, earthquake-prone dams and flood-prone dams in their region, and how the policy will apply to heritage dams.

View a copy of the policy on dangerous dams, earthquake-prone dams, and flood-prone dams

The policy applies only to dams in Otago and was intended to take effect three months after the government regulations came into force. The Government has revoked the dam safety regulations, and will not be developing the regulations needed to give effect to the policy.

View more information on dams and to read the definition of a dangerous dam as specified by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Building consent guides

We have a number of guides to help you through the building consent process. It's important to remember that a building consent is different to a resource consent.

G01: When is a Building Consent required 
G03: Public Information and Enquiries 
G04: Receiving and Accepting applications 
G05: Processing of Building Consent Applications
G06: Consultants 
G07: Evidence of Compliance Process 
G08: Granting and Issuing Building Consents 
G09: Code Compliance Certificate and Compliance Schedule


How do I apply for a building consent?

To apply for a consent for building work in Otago, Southland, or the West Coast, you must complete an application form. The same form is used for all three regions. Read more

Dam building consents FAQs

Do you have questions about dam building consents - find the answers here. Read more

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