Report an incident
Declared dam owners must report all serious incidents or injuries that occur at, or in relation to, their declared dam as soon as possible after the incident to Dams Safety NSW by calling 0403 681 645 (24 hours/7 days a week).
You must also provide a written incident report using the online Incident Reporting Form no more than 72 hours after the incident, even if you have already made an oral report.
Declared dam reporting
The following table provides a quick reference for declared dam owners to see which documents they must review and how often.
|When to review
|Consequence categories this applies to
|Annual Dams Safety Standards Report
|Dam Safety Management System
|Part 5 and Clause 17
|Operations and Maintenance Plan
|Emergency Plan - update contact details
|Every 5 years
|Emergency Plan - full review
|Every 5 years
|Operations and Maintenance Plan
|Every 5 years
|Risk Report (including an assessment of societal and individual risk rating)
|Every 15 years
|Consequence Category Assessment
|Every 15 years
What documents should I send to Dams Safety NSW?
Under the legislation, you do not need to submit many documents to Dams Safety NSW. You or your organisation must, however, keep these documents and submit them if requested. You must submit the Annual Dams Safety Standards Report, Consequence Category Assessment, and Emergency Plan every time you review or update them. You must also submit the Risk Report if it indicates that a declared dam is above the safety threshold.
Annual Dams Safety Standards Report
As a declared dam owner you must prepare and submit an Annual Dams Safety Standards Report for your dam each year to demonstrate and attest to your compliance with the dams safety standards. The report also provides important information to enable us to prioritise our compliance activities.
The report will include information about the consequence category of the dam, the dam safety management system, and other safety management requirements. The report also requires information for dams in the design/ construction/ commissioning and decommissioning phases.
For more information read the Annual Dams Safety Standards Report fact sheet.
Dam safety management system
As a declared dam owner you must have and implement a dam safety management system and review it each year. The system must be designed as your primary way to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that your dam does not put the safety of people, property or the environment at risk. It must provide a comprehensive and integrated system to manage all aspects of foreseeable risks from any dam failure. It must address all aspects of the dam life cycle, including the design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the dam.
For more information read the dam safety management system guideline.
Operations and maintenance plan
As a declared dam owner you must have an operations and maintenance plan that sets out
- operating procedures for the dam, including a concise description of procedures and limits (operator controls) of plant and equipment used to operate the dam
- details of each circumstance that will trigger an alarm in respect of the dam and the response and reporting protocols to use when that alarm is triggered
- maintenance (corrective and preventive) that will be carried out on the dam, when it will happen, and who is responsible
- procedures to report incidents related to the dam
- procedures to ensure public safety in respect of the dam during day to day operation
- security measures that are in place in respect of the dam.
For more information read the operations and maintenance plan guideline.
As a declared dam owner you must have an emergency plan that sets out
- the consequence category of the dam,
- details of the material contained by the dam,
- a description of the circumstances that could cause the dam to fail and and the likely consequences including, for a dam categorised as extreme or high consequence
- details of all credible modes of dam failure, and
- details of the people, property and infrastructure that are likely to be impacted in each scenario and the environmental damage that is likely to occur
- the procedures for the dam owner and staff to follow during an emergency that may cause the dam to fail, including
- a description of the emergency warning systems and how they work
- the different levels of emergency alerts (being levels that are consistent with those used by the NSW State Emergency Service), the triggers for those alerts and how to respond when those alerts are triggered
- procedures to alert emergency services organisations about the emergency
- who may be at risk if the dam fails
- who is responsible for exercising functions in an emergency and contact details for those people,
- details of the emergency exercises to be undertaken.
Declared dam owners must provide a copy of the emergency plan to Dams Safety NSW and the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) in a form approved by Dams Safety NSW as soon as reasonably practicable after it is prepared or updated. You must also review and update the contact details every year.
For more information read the emergency plans guideline.
As a declared dam owner (except for a proposed dam) you must produce a written report on all foreseeable risks to the dam
- at least once every 5 years, and
- if you propose to make a major change to the dam, at the time the change is being designed that takes the proposed change into account, and
- if required to do so by Dams Safety NSW.
The risk report must use the risk management framework under clause 14 of the Dams Safety Regulation 2019, and set out
- the societal risk rating and the highest individual risk rating of the dam calculated using the Societal and Individual Risk Rating Methodology, and
- an explanation of any assumptions used when making that calculation.
The societal risk rating for a dam is determined by multiplying the estimated probability of the dam failing in a given year by the estimated number of deaths the failure would cause. The individual risk rating for a dam means increase in risk to the life of a person because of the dam.
If the societal risk rating or highest individual risk rating for a dam is higher than the following safety threshold, the dam owner must forward a copy of the report to Dams Safety NSW as soon as practicable after the report is produced
- societal risk rating for an existing dam (except as provided by paragraph (b))—0.001,
- societal risk rating for a proposed dam or for an existing dam that is to be subject to a major change—0.0001,
- individual risk rating for an existing or proposed dam—0.0001.
Where the societal risk rating or highest individual risk rating is above the safety threshold, Dams Safety NSW may direct the dam owner to take specific steps in a specified time to ensure the rating is reduced to the safety threshold or lower.
For more information read the Risk reports for declared dams fact sheet.
Consequence category assessment
As a declared dam owner you must ensure that the consequence category of your dam is assessed by a competent person using the consequence category methodology
- within 6 months after the dam is declared
- at least once every 15 years and
- as soon as practicable after
- a modification to the dam
- any significant change in the number of people who would be affected if the dam failed (eg a large residential development in the dam break zone)
- a change in the severity of damage and loss that is likely if the dam fails, and
- if Dams Safety NSW sends a written notice to carry out an assessment within a specified time.
If the consequence category is High A, B, C or extreme, the assessment must be also reviewed by an independent competent person. A report setting out the assessment findings and reasons must be sent to Dams Safety NSW as soon as practicable after it is completed.
As a declared dam owner you must ensure that a competent person carries out a safety review to assess the overall safety of your dam at least once every 15 years or as soon as practicable after
- a deficiency or weakness is identified in the dam
- there is a change in accepted technology or methods used in one of the relevant specialities or in the design criteria for dams
- the consequence category of the dam changes, or if
- Dams Safety NSW writes to the dam owner requiring a safety review.
Dams Safety NSW will only require a new safety review if we believe that risks to the dam have not been adequately assessed or mitigated.
If your dam has a consequence category of high A, B, C or extreme the safety review will also need to be peer reviewed by a second independent competent person.
Report significant changes to your dam
The Dams Safety Regulation 2019 requires a declared dam owner to notify Dams Safety NSW in writing before any significant change is made to their dam. However, it’s a good idea to call us first to discuss your plans.
If you have changes underway and you’re not sure if we are aware of them, please contact us to discuss the work.
Update dam information and contact details
It is important that we have current information about declared dams and their owners so that we can contact you. Update your information using the dam information form and the declared dam owner's contact details form.