A good time to check your dam walls and spillways
06 February 2023
By Paul Wainwright, Team Leader Water Resources
Summer is finally here, and with it comes a higher reliance on surface water storages for watering crops and livestock. If you’re a rural landholder, are you seeing the water levels in your dams beginning to drop?
If so, it’s now the perfect time to undertake a dam inspection and think about any bigger maintenance work that may be needed.
Last winter was considerably wetter than average, and as a result numerous dams in our region nearly failed with potentially catastrophic consequences, even threatening a downstream township in one case.
Regular inspection of your dam’s structural integrity and planning any required maintenance work can reduce the risk of wall failure and collapse. You may also identify minor defects which can be repaired cost effectively before major damage occurs.
Questions for dam owners 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?
Our water resources team can help you with information about inspecting your dam and answer any questions you may have about maintenance.
We are also working with the Department for Environment and Water on a project to identify potentially high risk dams in the region and better support private dam owners to take action to help avoid downstream impacts. In March, we will host information sessions for dam owners to meet with staff and learn more about how to manage your dams safely.
Visit our webpage for useful resources about dam safety and maintenance here.