Who we are
Dams Safety NSW was established under the Dams Safety Act 2015 as an independent, transparent and effective regulator responsible for ensuring dam owners manage the safety of declared dams in the state. Read more about our legislation and reforms.
Created on 1 November 2019, Dams Safety NSW decides 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.
Dams Safety NSW consists of five members appointed by the Minister (and the Chief Executive Officer of Dams Safety NSW), who meet regularly as the Dams Safety NSW Board. The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for managing day-to-day operations and staff are employed by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to carry out the agency’s functions.
Dams Safety NSW replaced the former Dams Safety Committee.
What we do
The main role of Dams Safety NSW is to ensure the safety of all declared dams in NSW. We do this by auditing declared dam owners’ policies, processes and procedures to check compliance with the requirements of the Dams Safety Regulation 2019.
We provide guidance to declared dam owners on how to comply with the regulation and standards. Where required, we can enforce the regulation through a range of penalties.
We are also responsible for declaring notification areas surrounding, or in the vicinity of declared dams. If a mining company applies to operate in a notification area, we will raise any concerns about the impact on dam safety with the relevant consent authority. The authority must consider these matters before granting development consent.
For over 40 years, the safety of NSW dams was administered under the Dams Safety Act 1978. In lieu of 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 and is supported by the Dams Safety Regulation 2019. This regulation sets out operational details and safety standards that declared dam owners must comply with to satisfy the Act.
An Interim Dams Safety Advisory Committee developed the regulation and created new dams safety standards.