Dam safety and maintenance
Dams degrade over time and require ongoing maintenance to keep them operational and to prevent them causing damage to people, property, and the natural environment.
Regular inspection and management of dams can significantly reduce the risk of them overfilling and adding pressure to dam walls, potentially causing collapse. Dam overfill and wall failure can jeopardise the safety of downstream neighbours, assets and the local environment. Routine inspection also enables the identification of minor defects which can be repaired cost effectively before major damage occurs, prolongs the life of the dam and protects it against deterioration.
Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu is encouraging landholders to undertake maintenance inspections on their dams throughout the year to prevent similar incidents from occuring. The best time for preventative maintenance is in summer, when water levels are low and land is dry. Proper planning can prevent dam wall failure and also benefit the environment by releasing water to downstream catchments before the dam spills.
Questions for landholders to consider
- Does my dam have an unobstructed spillway operating that ensures the maximum water level is at least half a metre below the top of the dam wall?
- Are there any leaks or signs of animal burrows, cracking, slumping or erosion on the dam wall?
- Is my dam wall free of obstructions and vegetation other than grasses?
- Does my dam need de-silting to maintain its volume?
- Can I exclude livestock where possible?
Below are some helpful resources to help you understand best practice dam management.
- Department for Environment and Water - Private dams (useful factsheets, risk assessment templates and emergency action plans)
- Dam maintenance guideline February 2023
- Dams in the Hills and Fleurieu region - Feb 2022 (information about building or modifying a dam)
- Water Affecting Activities