Review of the Dams Safety Act 1978 and the Dams Safety Committee
This follows a NSW Commission of Audit recommendation that an independent evaluation of the risk standards set by the Dams Safety Committee should be reviewed.
The Dams Safety Committee is a nine-member committee which operates under the Dam Safety Act 1978 and regulates around 370 significant dams across the State.
The review will examine the functions and governance of the Dams Safety Committee and the objects of the Act, which has not been reviewed since it came into force in 1978.
This timely reassessment of the legislation aims to protect the safety, welfare and interests of the community and ensure the highest dam safety and security measures are maintained.
The appointed consultants have a wealth of experience in policy review and risk assessment, as well as technical expertise and experience in the dam safety regulatory framework both in NSW, nationally and internationally.
A Steering Committee has been formed with representatives from relevant government agencies, including NSW Trade & Investment, NSW Treasury, Department of Primary Industries, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Finance and Services, Department of Planning and Infrastructure and a representative of the Minister for Emergency Services.
To ensure the integrity of the review, the NSW Trade and Investment Strategic Policy & Economics Division will be responsible for the project.
At the conclusion of the review a report will be provided to the Minister for Primary Industries and will be released for community consultation.
Please note that until the findings of the review are known, it is business as usual for the Dams Safety Committee and prescribed dam owners should continue to comply with any Dams Safety Committee requests, notices or directives in a timely manner.
Terms of reference
The review will:
a) Clarify the objectives of the Dams Safety Act 1978 and the ‘market failures’ being addressed.
b) Consider alternative means for achieving the objectives of the legislation and identify if and where these objectives can only be achieved by regulatory intervention.
c) Consider the most effective methods of ensuring public safety at large (prescribed) dams while retaining as much functionality as practical.
d) Consider the Risk Management Policy Framework for Dams Safety 2006 and whether amendment of this policy is warranted.
e) Assess and balance the costs and benefits to the community and Government, including risk implications of proposed retained or new interventions.
f) Make recommendations to the Minister on possible amendments to the Act and Committee constitution and role.
g) Consider how advice from the Dams Safety Committee can be better integrated with the development assessment process, particularly for state significant development.
In undertaking this analysis, the review will:
h) Consider the role and performance of equivalent statutory arrangements in other jurisdictions.
i) Consider the safety cost/benefit trade-offs that are made in other industries.
j) Report on the potential impact of extractive (mining) activities on dam safety.
k) Consult with the Dams Safety Committee, dam managers (including State Water Corporation, Sydney Catchment Authority, Sydney Water and Hunter Water) and other relevant water managers in NSW.
l) Consult with the Department of Finance and Services, the State Emergency Service, WorkCover, NSW Trade and Investment (Resources and Energy), NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) and any other NSW Government agency relevant to dam safety.