New era in NSW dam safety

Media release | 1 November 2019

A new era in dam safety begins today with the NSW Government’s creation of a new independent agency, Dams Safety NSW, and the introduction of new regulations governing the safe operation of the state’s dams.

Commencing today, NSW has an independent regulator on watch, working to ensure the continued safety of public and privately owned dams, right across the state.

The Dams Safety Committee previously oversaw the Dams Safety Act 1978, governing the safety and operation of the state’s dams, but the opportunity arose to create an independent agency to oversee dam safety by implementing modern regulatory practices, together with new regulations; the Dams Safety Act 2015 and Dams Safety Regulation 2019.

Chris Salkovic, Dams Safety NSW Chief Executive Officer said NSW hasn’t had a significant dam failure under the watch of the Dams Safety Committee, and the creation of Dams Safety NSW will ensure our already excellent safety regime is maintained into the future.

“The new Act and regulations update the existing rules governing dam safety and bring them into line with modern practices, ensuring community safety remains the top priority for dam owners.

“Compliance with these new regulations will be enforced by us. This is similar in a way to compliance actions undertaken by the Natural Resources Access Regulator to ensure a strong, independent enforcement of water laws in NSW.

“Public safety is the paramount concern with Dams Safety NSW empowered to help guide dam owners and, if necessary, enforce compliance, with fines of up to $1.1 million applying for failure to comply with the new regulations,” he said.

“Dams Safety NSW acknowledges that there may be challenges for dam owners but we are focused on providing further education and advice as dam owners’ work to comply with these important legislative changes.

“Most of the requirements in the regulation give declared dams owners two years to make changes required by the new legislation,” Mr Salkovic said.

More information can be found at damsafety.nsw.gov.au