About Us

Dams Safety NSW has been established under the Dams Safety Act 2015  to be an independent, transparent and effective regulator with responsibility for the safety of declared dams in the state.

Created on November 1, 2019, Dams Safety NSW makes decisions on how the Dams Safety Regulation 2019 and standards are administered.

The agency comprises governing members with expertise in dam engineering, mine engineering, emergency management, dam operations and management, public safety risk analysis and best practice regulation.

A chief executive officer is responsible for managing day-to-day operations of Dams Safety NSW. Staff are employed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to carry out the agency’s functions.

Dams Safety NSW replaces the Dams Safety Committee.

What we do

The main role of Dams Safety NSW is to ensure the safety of all declared dams.

Dams Safety NSW will do this by auditing declared dam owners’ policies, processes and procedures to check compliance with the requirements of the Dams Safety Regulation 2019. Dams Safety NSW can enforce the regulation through a range of new penalties.

Dams Safety NSW will provide guidance to declared dam owners on how to comply with the regulation and standards.

The agency is also responsible for declaring notification areas surrounding, or in the vicinity of declared dams.

If a mining company applies to a consent authority to operate in a notification area, Dams Safety NSW will raise any concerns with the relevant consent authority. The authority must take these matters into account before granting development consent.

Our history

For over 40 years, the safety of NSW dams has been administered under the Dams Safety Act 1978. In lieu of having detailed requirements set out in specific regulations, the Dams Safety Committee administered the 1978 Act by publishing guidance sheets for dam owners to follow. The 1978 Act had very limited penalty provisions.

The Dams Safety Act 2015 replaces the 1978 Act . The 2015 Act required the creation of the Dams Safety Regulation 2019, to be made. This regulation sets out operational details and safety standards that declared dam owners must comply with in order to satisfy the provisions of the Act.

An Interim Dams Safety Advisory Committee was tasked with preparing for the new Act. This committee worked on regulatory and policy development and created new dams safety standards.

Our Strategic Plan

The Dams Safety NSW Strategic Plan 2020-2021 sets the direction for Dams Safety NSW for the transition period under the legislation, and sets out the longer term strategic outcomes the regulator will focus on to achieve its vision of safe dams for NSW.

One of our key focus areas is to enable and support owners of declared dams to understand and fulfil their safety obligations under the Dams Safety Act 2015 and Dams Safety Regulation 2019.

Our governing body

Dams Safety NSW consists of six members appointed by the minister. Whilst Dams Safety NSW  reports to the minister, it is an independent body. Any directions by the minister must be made in accordance with the provisions of the Dams Safety Act 2015. The minister may not control or direct any decision that relates to proceedings for offences under the Act or the regulation.

The governing body operates under the DSNSW Board Charter and its members are required to adhere to the DSNSW Board Code of Conduct.

Ross is a regulatory expert with over 30 years of experience in the design and implementation of policy and regulation. He has extensive experience leading the development and maturation of regulatory capability and capacity including risk identification, treatment and control; compliance and enforcement strategy and reporting; field based operations; and crisis and emergency response.

His roles have ranged from field-based regulatory operations in rural and regional areas to senior executive positions at both state and national levels. His senior executive roles have included key leadership, governance and decision-making roles in significant independent regulatory institutions, for example as Executive Director Sydney Region with the NSW EPA and as Executive General Manager with the Australian Clean Energy Regulator.

Ross is a Commissioner with the NSW Independent Planning Commission and is an Inspector-General Live Animal Exports with the Australian Government.

Alex is an experienced organisational leader, senior executive and director with over 25 years of experience in a diversity of environments including the military, academia, utilities, government and consulting.

She has expertise in dams operation and management, emergency management and best practice regulation, organisational leadership and governance working across a range of stakeholders. Her senior executive roles have included key leadership roles within the water industry, for example Executive General Manager with Seqwater, Executive General Manager – Asset Strategy & Delivery with SunWater.

Alex has the rare ability to translate operations, project management & infrastructure management into the language of the boardroom.

Shane is a civil engineer with over 40 years’ experience in the water industry. He has extensive experience in senior leadership roles for construction, operation, maintenance and management of major dams and other water supply infrastructure, both in Australia and overseas.

He is an executive member of the Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD), a member of the Dam Safety Committee of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers and a Chartered Professional Engineer. He is a member of the Board of Seqwater.

Rob has extensive water engineering expertise and has an in-depth understanding of the NSW water management and infrastructure framework, having been in this sector for 28 years. His senior management roles have included Chief Regulatory Strategist and General Manager, Regulation & Compliance with IPART and Chief Advisor – Water for Department of Primary Industries NSW and InfrastructureNSW.

Rob served as a member and chairperson of the Interim Dams Safety Advisory Committee.

John is a dual qualified geologist and mining engineer and has expertise in mining, geotechnical engineering, tailings dams and radiation safety. His senior roles have included Inspector of mining engineering for the NSW Resource Regulator, Mine Manager at Cairn Hill Mine South Australia, Quarry Manger for Leighton’s Contractors and a Mines Inspector with the Department of Mines Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

John is a member of the Geology Society of Australia and is a Chartered Professional and Fellow of Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

John is a Councilor for the Radiation Council of NSW, A board Member for Dam safety NSW and for the Board of Survey and Spatial Services NSW. John has previously been a committee member for the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, a Non-Executive Director for ASX listed Mindax Limited. John has a certificate of Corporate Governance.

Chris is an asset management leader and certified asset management assessor (CAMA) with over 25 years’ experience in infrastructure risk management, strategic planning, program management and operations and maintenance improvement.

As Chief Executive Officer of Dams Safety NSW, Chris is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency.

Dams Safety NSW meeting minutes

The Dams Safety NSW members meet approximately every six weeks and the meeting minutes are published here.

Dams Safety NSW annual reports

As part of Dams Safety NSW's statutory reporting requirements, it prepares an annual report to its Minister and the NSW Parliament detailing activities and outcomes for the financial year. A copy of this report is published here.