E ahatia ana? | What's happening?

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is required to update its existing policy on dangerous, earthquake-prone and flood-prone dams (currently titled Dangerous Dams Policy) to align with new Building (Dam safety) Regulations that have been set by central government.

This has been done to increase the resilience and safety of Aotearoa / New Zealand’s dams, protecting people, property and the environment from the potential impacts of dam failures.

This policy update means owners of dangerous, flood-prone and / or earthquake-prone dams of a certain height and volume will need to determine their dam’s potential impact classification, put in place safety plans and undertake regular dam inspections to help reduce the risk of failure.

Only classifiable dams are impacted by this policy update.

See the Key documents section to the right for the draft Policy and Statement of Proposal.

He aha te pāpuni whakarōpū? | What is a Classifiable dam?

A classifiable dam is defined as:

  • 4m or more in height and
  • Stores 20,000m3 or more in volume of water or other fluid.
  • He aha ngā pāpuni e mōrearea ana, e raru ana i te rū-whenua, e raru ana hoki i te waipuke? | What are dangerous, earthquake-prone and flood-prone dams?

    The Building Act 2004 defines these as follows:

    Dangerous Dam

    A high potential or medium potential impact dam; and is likely to fail:

  • In the ordinary course of events; or
  • In a moderate earthquake (as defined in the Regulations); or
  • In a moderate flood (as defined in the Regulations).
  • Earthquake-prone Dam

    A dam is an earthquake-prone dam for the purposes of the Act, if the dam:

    a. Is a high potential impact dam or a medium potential impact dam; and

    b. Is likely to fail in an earthquake threshold event (as defined in the Regulations)

    Flood-prone Dam

    A dam is flood-prone dam if the dam:

    a. Is a high potential impact dam or a medium potential impact dam; and

    b. Is likely to fail in a threshold event (as defined in the Regulations).

    He aha mātou e mahi nei i tēnei? | Why are we doing this?

    Section 161 of the Building Act 2004 (under which the Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022 sit) requires all regional councils to adopt a policy for dangerous, earthquake-prone and flood-prone dams.


    Tukua tō kōrero | Have your say

    The draft policy on Dangerous Dams, Earthquake-prone Dams and Flood prone Dams is open for submissions from 26 June to 29 July 2024.

    The council is not able to change anything in the Act or the Regulations. Therefore, council cannot make any changes to the Legal Framework section of the policy or to any of the provisions of the Building Act 2004 and Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022 mentioned in the policy.

    Making a Submission

    Anyone can make a submission on the proposed policy by:

    • Completing the online submission form below
    • Emailing
    • By post to Bay of Plenty Regional Council, PO Box 364, Whakatāne
    • In person- drop off your written submission at one of our offices (1 Elizabeth Street, Tauranga; 5 Quay Street Whakatāne; or 1118 Fenton Street, Rotorua)

    Submissions close on Monday 29 July 2024.

    Submitters will have the opportunity to speak to their submission at hearings. The hearings panel will make recommendations to council in September, and the final version of policy will be adopted by council.


    He aha e panoni ana? | What's changing?

    Under the new regulations (which will take effect through Regional Council’s policy update), dam owners of dangerous, flood-prone and / or earthquake-prone dams are required to determine if they own a classifiable dam.

    Owners of classifiable dams will then be required to:

    • Undertake a Potential Impact Classification (PIC) on the dam.
    • Have the PIC certified and / or audited by a Recognised Engineer.
    • Lodge the PIC with Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
    • If the PIC assesses the dam as Medium Potential Impact or High Potential Impact, owners will need to develop and / or update the Dam Safety Assurance Programme for the dam according to section 10-18 of the regulations.
    • Provide the Bay of Plenty Regional Council with the Dam Safety Assurance Program Certificate by engaging a Recognised Engineer.
    Diagram of policy hierarchy

    Parts of the policy

    This policy sets out the regulatory framework that informs dam owners and Regional Council of their legislative and regulatory responsibilities.

    The policy was first adopted by Regional Council in 2007 and has four key sections:

    Section 1: The policy background, principles, and commencement.

    Section 2: The legislative and regulatory framework this policy is based upon that explains how Regional Council and dam owners will perform their responsibilities.

    Section 3: Regional Council priorities when performing its legislative and regulatory functions under the policy.

    The focus of the policy is to always prioritise safety, following a risk-based approach. Regional Council must also protect the health and wellbeing of the environment, and have regard to cultural and heritage values when undertaking its functions.

    Section 4: Application of the policy to heritage dams.

    Regional Council must facilitate the preservation of significant heritage values if a dangerous dam is also a heritage dam.