Why it’s important for dam owners to engage with the community
All declared dam owners in NSW are legally required to implement a dam safety management system (DSMS) to ensure the ongoing safety of their dams and to comply with the Dams Safety Regulation 2019.
Engaging with the community about dam safety can help build awareness about the vital role dams play while improving community knowledge and understanding about dam safety management practices. Building awareness also creates the opportunity to proactively address important topics and issues, such as how dams operate during flood events.
Providing information about dam management practices will help to give the community more confidence about their safety.
The more you engage with your community and stakeholders about your dam safety management practices, the easier it will be to communicate with them if or when works need to take place. Stakeholder and community input can be valuable during the design and construction phases of dam upgrade projects.
Four reasons why
1. Duty of care
Dam owners have a legal obligation to comply with dam safety standards that reflect a duty of care to communities living near dams. Good relationships with the community will be critical in the event of a dam safety incident and may help to keep people safe.
2. Meeting community expectations
The current Australian Standard for Asset Management (ISO 55001) includes an expectation that communities are made aware of dam safety practices and risk management.
3. Legal requirement
Under the Dams Safety Regulation 2019, dam owners must implement a Dams Safety Management System that is compliant with the AS ISO 55001 standard. Under this standard, an owner needs to determine the ‘requirements and expectations’ of their stakeholders’, (or communities). These should be documented within the DSMS document and communicated.
4. Being a good neighbour
Dam owners have a social responsibility to build community awareness about the risks posed by dams and how these risks are managed.
For emergency management
Why engage with the community?
Communities affected by dams, especially those downstream, have a significant stake in the responsible management of dams and the preparedness of dam owners and emergency agencies to respond to floods. An informed and prepared community can provide valuable input to dam owners and enhance the ability of emergency managers to reduce the impacts of flooding.
Through effective engagement the community should be supported to express their concerns, share experiences, influence solutions and, most importantly, have access to timely and relevant information. Dam owners should develop their emergency engagement strategies based on the principles of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience: Community Engagement Framework Handbook 6.
Dam safety engagement principles
Every dam owner should be able to simply and clearly explain their role and responsibility in managing their dam and provide an overview of their safety management program to the community.
Dam owners should be open to explaining the risk-based approach to dam safety management together with their decision making processes to the community.
Engagement programs should be developed based on best practices set by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience: Community Engagement Framework Handbook 6.