Monday, February 26, 2024

New dam safety rules on the way

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Nationwide regulations come into force on May 13.
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Farmers with a dam or similar water retention structure on their properties are reminded to be ready for new dam safety regulations.

The new nationwide regulations being introduced by the Ministry for Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) come into force on May 13.

In an Environment Canterbury (ECan) reminder, farmers are encouraged to get ready now.

The new regulations are designed to provide a nationally consistent approach to dam safety, ensuring dams and similar structures, including dairy effluent ponds, are well-operated, maintained and monitored.

They are designed to reduce the impact on people, property, or the environment from incidents that could cause these kinds of structures to fail.

“If you have a dam or similar structure on your property, you should look at at MBIE’s Building Performance website  as soon as possible to determine if it falls under the new regulations,” the memo says. 

Whether it’s classified under the new regulations depends on its height and the volume of water or fluid it can store above the natural ground level.

The new regulations apply to dams that are four or more metres and store 20,000 or more cubic metres volume of water, or other fluid; or one or more metres and store 40,000 or more cubic metres volume of water or other fluid.

The regulations apply to a flood control dam and a natural feature that has been significantly modified to function as a dam, and a canal. 

They do not apply to a stopbank designed to control floodwaters.

Small dams such as “turkey nest” dams are excluded as are irrigations races and stock drinking ponds and weirs.

If a dam is not classifiable this means it is not affected by the regulations and no further action is required.

If a dam is classifiable, land owners will need to carry out a potential impact classification (PIC).

This can be done by the landowner, or a technical practitioner can be engaged to do it on their behalf.

Either way a registered engineer will need to audit and certify the PIC, which will then need to be registered on the MBIE dam safety register within three months of the regulations coming into effect.

The dam safety register will be live on the website from mid-May, 2024.

The PIC will give a rating of low, medium or high impact and depending on the rating it may be necessary to submit a dam safety assurance programme (DSAP). 

Again, dam owners can prepare the DSAP themselves or have a technical practitioner prepare it for them.

As part of the DSAP, dam owners must prepare and carry out an immediate dam safety review to evaluate dam performance and identify any dam safety issues.

The review includes design, construction, operation and performance and all its systems and procedures that affect dam and reservoir safety.

Once the DSAP has been prepared it must be certified by a registered engineer before submission to the respective regional authority for approval.

If a dam owner fails to meet their responsibilities, they may be liable for a fine.

ECan recommends farmers and dam owners pay particular attention to the implementation timeframes  and for further information contact your respective regional council.

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