Dam safety regulations

The failure of a dam can have major consequences—from injury and loss of life to economic, property and environmental damage.

The legislation for referable dams is the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, specifically the requirements in Chapter 4: Referable dams and flood and drought mitigation.

Safety responsibilities

While no dam is 100% safe, the risks of failure are usually very low and can be managed.

In Queensland, the responsibility for the safety of a dam rests with the dam owner.

Referable dams

Under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, the Queensland Government is responsible for the regulation of water dams that would, in the event of failure, put 2 or more people at risk. Such dams are called 'referable' dams.

By definition, referable dams do not include:

  • dams containing hazardous waste
  • weirs that do not have variable flow control structures on the crest of the weir
  • large fabricated water tanks.

Changed provisions

Changes to a number of provisions in the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 commenced on 1 July 2017. The changes simplify the regulation of small dams and clarify the role of dam owners and managers, enabling them to better manage safety.

Read more about the changes resulting from the Water Legislation (Dam Safety) Amendment Act 2017.


General enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68)