Media release

New Dangerous dams policy proposed

Wednesday 25 October 2023

The Otago Regional Council is updating its policy on how it deals with dangerous, earthquake-prone or flood-prone dams in Otago, and how it reviews the policy at regular intervals.

The council seeks public submissions as part of the process, open from 13 November – 15 December.

The policy, which the Council is required to have under the Building Act, is being updated to ensure it is fit for purpose and in line with the nationwide Building (Dam Safety) regulations.

“Hearing from our community on the proposed changes to the policy is a really important part of this process,” says Team Leader Consents Rebecca Jackson, who is leading this work.

The purpose of the policy is to help prevent the catastrophic failure of a potentially dangerous dam, and to ensure issues in an earthquake-prone or flood-prone dam are addressed.

With the recent introduction and changes to the nationwide Building (Dam Safety) Regulations now is a good time to review the policy, as all regional authorities are doing.

The policy only applies to dams that are believed to be or are dangerous, flood-prone or earthquake-prone under the Building Act.

The main changes proposed follow changes to Building Act regulations for dam safety, introduced last year.

The regulation changes largely relate to dam owner responsibilities, including a requirement for owners to regularly assess and report on the condition of their dam, and to tell potentially affected people if there are any safety risks.

“It is important for Otago to have an up to date and fit for purpose policy on dams,” says Ms Jackson.

Submissions will be open to the public and feedback is welcomed on the proposed policy. Dam owners will be communicated with directly by letter or email and invited to make submissions on the proposed amendments.

More information about ORC’s dangerous dams, earthquake-prone dams and flood-prone dams policy, the proposed amendments, as well as a link to the submission form will be available on the council’s website.

Hard copy versions of the submission form will be available from Council office or by emailing

Submissions open 13 November and close 5pm 15 December 2023. Once all the submissions are received, Council will decide how many hearings are required and their locations. Following the hearing process, Council will consider changes and adopt the new dangerous dams, earthquake-prone dams and flood-prone dams policy.

If people are unsure if they have one of these dams or if the policy applies to them, they can enquire via email to