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Dam safety regulations

The Government is introducing new dam safety regulations to protect people, property and the environment from the potential impacts of a dam failure.

​Purpose of the regulations

The aim of the regulations is to ensure that dams over a certain height or storage capacity are:
  • well operated and maintained
  • regularly monitored.

The regulations provide a consistent, nationwide framework by setting out minimum safety standards for dams in New Zealand.

Dams affected by the regulations

The regulations will apply to all 'classifiable' dams, which are dams that:

  • have a height of four or more metres and store 20,000 or more cubic metres of water or other fluid
  • have a height of one or more metres and store 40,000 or more cubic metres of water or other fluid.

What dam owners need to do

From 13 May 2024, owners of classifiable dams will need to:

  • confirm the risk their dam would pose in the event of failure
  • put in place dam safety plans
  • undertake regular dam inspections.

Dam owners will have three months from the date the regulations take effect to register the dam details with us.

For new dams, owners will have three months from the date the dam is commissioned to register the details with us.

Read more about the responsibilities of dam owners on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Building Performance website.

Resources for dam owners

You can find resources, including a tool to help calculate the volume of your dam and templates listing the information you need to provide to regional authorities, on the Building Performance website.

Responsibilities of recognised engineers

The regulations also set out responsibilities for recognised engineers.

Engineering New Zealand Te Ao Rangahau, as the registration authority for chartered professional engineers, is responsible for assessing and registering recognised engineers.

Together with the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD), they have developed the framework and registration process for recognised engineer qualifications and competencies to be assessed.

Read more about the responsibilities of recognised engineers on the Engineering New Zealand website.

Contact us about a dam

To ask us a question about dam safety regulations or provide us with safety documentation for your dam, email:

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