Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New dam regs good but not great, says Feds

Neal Wallace
Federated Farmers welcomes height change but wanted more relief for farmers from rule change.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Owners of dams up to 4m high will no longer require an engineer’s report on the potential impact should they fail.

Chris Penk, the Minister for Building and Construction, said regulations introduced by the previous government requiring an engineer’s report on the safety of dams 1m high and above, were to come into force from mid-May.

This has been amended by the coalition government, and a new threshold above which an engineer must complete a safety report has been set at 4m.

Federated Farmers has welcomed the change, but board member Mark Hooper said it could have gone further.

The government claims the change will exempt 1900 dams but the lobby group estimates about 800 dams, many on farms, will still be captured by the regulations.

Hooper said they lobbied for a system where an assessment by a lower qualified consultant could be made on the potential impact and threat of a dam failure, excluding the need for an engineer’s report.

He said some dams that still meet this new threshold pose no threat to life or property, and with only about a dozen engineers in the country qualified to do dam assessments, those reports are going to be time consuming and costly.

“If a dam is captured the only option is to go to a specialist engineer.”

Penk said the change will exempt 1900 dams and save owners $13.3m in compliance costs.

The changes align dam safety regulations with the requirement for dams over 4m to also have a building consent.

“This higher threshold strikes the right balance of managing risk while easing the regulatory burden faced by owners of smaller dams like farmers and growers.” 

The new regulations come in to force on May 13 and Penk said owners of classifiable dams must provide their relevant regional authority with a dam classification certificate by August 13.

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