Dam Safety Regulations and Dangerous Dams Policy

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The Dangerous Dams Policy consultation is now closed. Staff are in the process of collating and considering feedback. 

A summary report will be submitted to the Regulatory & Safety Committee in late February 2024, and councillors will make recommendations and decisions on the Dam Safety Regulations 2022 policy before it comes into effect on May 13, 2024.

If you have any further questions on the process or on the new regulations, including how to register a dam, please contact damsafetyteam@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz


The regulations provide a nationally consistent approach to:

  • ensuring that dams are, and continue to remain safe
  • protecting people, property, infrastructure, and the environment.

The Building Act 2004 requires all regional councils to:

  • administer and monitor dam safety regulations
  • implement a policy on dangerous dams, flood-prone dams, and earthquake-prone dams
  • take action, if necessary, if any dam, large or small, poses an immediate danger to the safety of persons, property, or the environment. 

Why the regulations were made

The New Zealand Government made the regulations in May 2022.

The regulations ensure dams meet a certain height and volume threshold and are:

  • well-operated
  • maintained
  • regularly monitored.

They also ensure that potential risks of dam incidents and failures are reduced.

Until the regulations were made, New Zealand was one of the few countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that did not have a consistent regulatory dam safety framework.

Find out more about Complying with the regulations.

Owners of property with a dam

You should prepare for the new regulations before they commence on 13 May 2024.

You first need to find out if your dam is affected by the regulations.

What defines an impacted dam

A dam is impacted if it is:

  • four or more metres in height and stores 20,000 or more cubic metres volume of water, or other fluid
  • one or more metres in height and stores 40,000 or more cubic metres volume of water, or other fluid.

What to do if your dam is impacted

If a dam is impacted, you will need to become familiar with your responsibilities under the regulations.

These responsibilities include assessing your dam’s potential impact on:

  • the community
  • historical or cultural places
  • critical or major infrastructure
  • the natural environment.

Other responsibilities will vary depending on the outcome of the assessment.

Owners of dams assessed as having a lower potential impact on the surrounding area will have fewer responsibilities, whereas those with higher potential impacts will have more responsibilities.

Learn more about Roles and Responsibilities.

About the Dangerous Dams Policy

The draft Dangerous Dams Policy sets out what we will do if we are notified of a dangerous, earthquake-prone or flood-prone dam in the Auckland region.

It is a short policy that covers our regulatory and legislative responsibilities in relation to dangerous dams under the Building Act 2004.

The aim of the dams policy is to identify and remove the risk to people and communities from:

  • dangerous dams
  • earthquake-prone dams
  • flood-prone dams.

Please note that Watercare’s High and Medium PIC dams meet thresholds that are much greater than moderate earthquake/ flood and earthquake/ flood-prone dams threshold events, as defined in the proposed Dangerous Dams Policy or upcoming dam safety regulations.



The Dangerous Dams Policy consultation is now closed. Staff are in the process of collating and considering feedback. 

A summary report will be submitted to the Regulatory & Safety Committee in late February 2024, and councillors will make recommendations and decisions on the Dam Safety Regulations 2022 policy before it comes into effect on May 13, 2024.

If you have any further questions on the process or on the new regulations, including how to register a dam, please contact damsafetyteam@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz


The regulations provide a nationally consistent approach to:

  • ensuring that dams are, and continue to remain safe
  • protecting people, property, infrastructure, and the environment.

The Building Act 2004 requires all regional councils to:

  • administer and monitor dam safety regulations
  • implement a policy on dangerous dams, flood-prone dams, and earthquake-prone dams
  • take action, if necessary, if any dam, large or small, poses an immediate danger to the safety of persons, property, or the environment. 

Why the regulations were made

The New Zealand Government made the regulations in May 2022.

The regulations ensure dams meet a certain height and volume threshold and are:

  • well-operated
  • maintained
  • regularly monitored.

They also ensure that potential risks of dam incidents and failures are reduced.

Until the regulations were made, New Zealand was one of the few countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that did not have a consistent regulatory dam safety framework.

Find out more about Complying with the regulations.

Owners of property with a dam

You should prepare for the new regulations before they commence on 13 May 2024.

You first need to find out if your dam is affected by the regulations.

What defines an impacted dam

A dam is impacted if it is:

  • four or more metres in height and stores 20,000 or more cubic metres volume of water, or other fluid
  • one or more metres in height and stores 40,000 or more cubic metres volume of water, or other fluid.

What to do if your dam is impacted

If a dam is impacted, you will need to become familiar with your responsibilities under the regulations.

These responsibilities include assessing your dam’s potential impact on:

  • the community
  • historical or cultural places
  • critical or major infrastructure
  • the natural environment.

Other responsibilities will vary depending on the outcome of the assessment.

Owners of dams assessed as having a lower potential impact on the surrounding area will have fewer responsibilities, whereas those with higher potential impacts will have more responsibilities.

Learn more about Roles and Responsibilities.

About the Dangerous Dams Policy

The draft Dangerous Dams Policy sets out what we will do if we are notified of a dangerous, earthquake-prone or flood-prone dam in the Auckland region.

It is a short policy that covers our regulatory and legislative responsibilities in relation to dangerous dams under the Building Act 2004.

The aim of the dams policy is to identify and remove the risk to people and communities from:

  • dangerous dams
  • earthquake-prone dams
  • flood-prone dams.

Please note that Watercare’s High and Medium PIC dams meet thresholds that are much greater than moderate earthquake/ flood and earthquake/ flood-prone dams threshold events, as defined in the proposed Dangerous Dams Policy or upcoming dam safety regulations.